Showtime Documentary Films has set Attica from Emmy winner Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till). The timely feature-length docu chronicles the five-day prison rebellion that transpired in the fall of 1971 in upstate New York and still stands as the largest and deadliest the country has ever witnessed. Vinnie Malhotra, Executive Vice President, Nonfiction Programming, Showtime Networks Inc. made the announcement today. Attica is slated to debut on Showtime in 2021 which marks the 50th anniversary of the uprising.
Attica will go beyond the five days of rebellion and give a broader understanding of the Attica tragedy in the crosscurrents of politics, race, power and punishment during the early 1970s. Through expert voices and archival images of urban and suburban life, the film explores the tensions between a young, radicalized population of mostly black and Latino inmates, and correctional officers from a predominately white company town, where the Attica prison was the primary employer for generations of families.
Attica examines inmates’ demands for recognition of their humanity at the culmination of a moment where racial justice activists embraced prisoner rights as an extension of their fight for civil rights. Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, the Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, will serve as the lead historical consultant on the project.
“Attica is a film I’ve been itching to make for a very long time. It’s a dramatic story, with so many great voices that have not been heard,” said Nelson. “The uprising and its aftermath shaped the present in ways I think will be surprising to an audience. I’m thrilled to be partnering with Showtime on this project.”
“Few single words in our nation’s history conjure more powerful emotions than Attica, especially at the intersection of race and our prison system,” said Malhotra. “And no filmmaker is better suited to make sense of those five days in America’s history than Stanley Nelson. We are honored and excited to be working with a filmmaker of Stanley’s caliber on telling a story that’s just as relevant fifty years later.”
A MacArthur and Peabody Award winner, Nelson is known for spotlighting both familiar and under-explored aspects of America’s past. He earned an Emmy for the docus Freedom Riders and The Murder of Emmett Till. He also directed Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019.
Attica is produced by Nelson’s Firelight Films and Topic Studios for Showtime Documentary Films.