Two Civil Rights-Era Films by Madeline Anderson

The now veteran television documentary producer Madeline Anderson got her start in filmmaking in the 1950s, after studying at NYU and falling in with vérité filmmakers like Richard Leacock and D.A. Pennebaker. She made a number of compelling early short documentary subjects focusing on Civil Rights at this time, which were shown in the UK by the Cinema Rediscovered Film Festival a couple of years back.

Integration Report 1 (1960)

No director credit is given, but producer Madeline Anderson is behind this fascinating glimpse of Civil Rights struggles in the late-1950s, with footage of rallies featuring speakers like Bayard Rustin and Martin Luther King Jr. It’s a short work which never did get any of the sequels anticipated by the title’s numbering, but it captures plenty of the passion for change of the period. It features the participation of noted documentary filmmakers like Albert Maysles, and the poet Maya Angelou, who sings “We Shall Overcome”.

Director Madeline Anderson [credited as producer]; Length 20 minutes.
Seen at Watershed, Bristol, Friday 27 July 2018.

I Am Somebody (1970)

A galvanising, on-the-ground report on a strike by Black women healthcare workers in Charleston, South Carolina, protesting their poor pay in comparison to colleagues, and the contempt of the hospital (as well as the state government and, of course, the police) to their unionisation and activities. Their forthright representation of their demands is met by representation from national figures from the NAACP and the SCLC, including Coretta Scott King, whose moving speeches are captured here. It’s not just a documentary record of a period in history and a prominent action, it’s an urgent call for recognising the equality and indeed personhood of Black women at a time when this was hardly something that could be taken for granted (and still, to a certain extent, is not).

Director/Writer Madeline Anderson; Length 28 minutes.
Seen at Watershed, Bristol, Friday 27 July 2018.


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