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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  January 24, 2018 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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01/24/18 01/24/18 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from park city, utah, at the sundance film festival, this is democracy now! >> having grown up in the south were the cops and the klan one and the same, my parents did not turn to the police for protection. they already felt the police had already turned their son and as a suspect for murder. amy: for the first time in academy award history trans , a director has been nominated for an oscar. we will speak to yance ford about his documentary "strong island."
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it chronicles what happened to his own family after his brother was shot dead by a white man in long island, new york, in 1992. the killer, never charged. plus, we hear from oscar-nominee, the musician and actor, common. >> the day that women took over, let it take over. now women get paid as much as men do. dr. angelo looking from heaven's window, telling young girls phenomenal woman is in you, body is a temple. mother earth saying, it's ok. toilet seats down, that is a no-brainer. monuments in washington of fannie lou hamer. amy: comment also stars in the film here at sundance that has had its world premiere about sexual abuse gold "detail." then "hale county this morning, this evening." a new documentary captures life
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in the black belt of alabama. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in switzerland, thousands of protesters took to the streets of zurich tuesday to protest against the world economic forum in davos and president trump's planned visit. switzerland has deployed at least 5000 soldiers and police to davos. it's also imposed a no-fly zone over the area. the protests came as u.s. treasury secretary steven mnuchin is slated to lead the davos summit today. trump is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, becoming the first u.s. president to attend davos in two decades. this is protester paolo gilardi. >> the swiss federal council is about to welcome and unrolled the red carpet for mr. trump, but with the people have
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something to say and that this policy is unacceptable because the goal of this policy is to reduce the planet to fire and blood and to assure the powerful people's domination over the rest of the world. amy: in news from capitol hill, the justice department has confirmed that attorney general jeff sessions underwent several hours of questioning last week as part of special counsel robert mueller's investigation. mueller's probe is increasingly investigating not only the trump campaign's ties to russia, but also president trump's time in office, including whether he tried to obstruct the russia investigation. the questioning of jeff sessions marks the first time a member of trump's cabinet faced questioning. the senate has confirmed multimillionaire banker jerome powell to replace federal reserve chairwoman janet yellen. powell is a former partner at the massive investment firm carlyle group, which is a major investor in military contractors, as well as telecommunications, fossil fuel companies, financial services , and other industries.
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his confirmation marks the first time in 40 years that someone who is not an economist is leading the federal reserve. immigration rights activists held protests at the offices of several senators tuesday to protest against lawmakers passage of a short-term spending bill that did not include any protections for dreamers. protesters also gathered outside the home of senate minority leader chuck schumer of new york , who capitulated to republican lawmakers and voted for the spending bill after having valid to oppose any bill that did not ,nclude a resolution on daca the deferred action for childhood arrivals program that president trump rescinded last year. senator schumer now says he will no longer back plans to fund president trump's proposed billion-dollar border wall in exchange for a resolution on daca. in kentucky, two high school studen were kill and 18 mo re wounded aer a 15-year-old boy walked into marshall county
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high school with a handgun just high school with a handgun just before 8:00 a.m. local time on tuesday morning and began shooting his fellow students in the common area. the victims are bailey nicole holt and preston ryan cope, both 15 years old. five other students are still hospitalized in critical condition. this is kentucky state police commissioner rick sanders. >> in speaking of the human told us something like this take, can't tell you whole lot about what happened there today because i don't want to do anything to hurt the investigation. but i will address the human toll it takes. in addition to those family members that have lost loved ones, that have had loved ones injured or hurt or traumatized, we pray for those people. amy: tuesday shooting was the 11th shooting at a school so far this year, meaning there has been nearly one school shooting every other day across the united states.
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on monday, there were two separate school shootings. one inside a school cafeteria outside dallas, texas, and another in the parking lot of a charter school in new orleans. new york city mayor bill de blasio has announced the city is suing major pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors over the opioid crisis. among the companies being sued are purdue pharma, which is the maker of oxycontin, and johnson & johnson. the opioid crisis killed 64,000 americans in 2016. meanwhile, photographer nan goldin, who is a recovered opioid addict, and a group of her fellow artists and activists has launched a campaign shaming the secretive sackler family -- which owns purdue pharma -- over their profiting off the opioid crisis. "i don't know how they live with themselves congo she said. in libya, a double car bombing in the city of benghazi has killed at least 33 people. the first explosion hit a mosque
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as worshipers were leaving evening prayers. the second bomb exoded only minutes later as health and security officials were arriving at the site of the first blast. in news on syria, the u.s.-led coalition fighting isis claims it killed more than 150 isis fighters in airstrikes on saturday in syria's south-eastern province of deir deir al-zour. meanwhile, in the northern syrian city of afrin, turkey is continuing its bombing and ground offensive against the u.s.-backed kurdish forces who control the region. the united nations says the turkish offensive has killed at least 24 civilians and displaced more than 5000 people since the -- it began on saturday. the turkish offensive against afrin has sparked protests in cities across the world. this is protester abdul darwish, who is originally from afrin, speaking at a protest in athens. >> right now there is chaos. airstrikes everywhere. he does not air children or
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schools. he strikes everywhere. amy: meanwhile, in more news on syria, the united states has accused the syrian government of carrying out a chemical weapons attack during its ongoing offensive against the rebel-held enclave of eastern ghouta outside the capital damascus. this is secretary of state rex tillerson. >> only yesterday, more than 20 civilians, most of them children, were victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack. the recent attacks in east ghouta is attacks that sure al-assad's regime maybe continuing its use of chemical weapons against its own people. amy: the syrian government has denied using chemical weapons in the ongoing conflict. in afghanistan, isis has come to on the offices of save the children in the eastern city of jalalabad. at least two people were killed in the attack in a dozen were wounded. the group save the children says it is suspending its program
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operations in afghanistan. in the philippines, more than 50,000 people have been forced to flee their homes as mount mayon has erected spewing lava , and debris for miles. the eruption has caused earthquakes, and the volcanic ashas fied the sky, blanketing whole villages in darkness. amnesty international accused the mexican government of supporting despite threats to their lives. the report cited the case of a hunter a bus driver killed three weeks after mexican authorities to reported him back to honduras. this is amnesty international researcher madeleine penman. >> it is a turn of a violation of accident law and international law that sending a person back to a territory where their life or safety is in danger. they after day, despite it being afraid of dying, having threats and attacks against them, their people from central america being returned to face the possible death. amy: back in the united states in michigan, authorities arrested a 19-year-old white man
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named brendan great summer after he reportedly called cnn headquarters nearly two dozen times threatening to murder workers using slurs to insult african-americans and. jews. he was arrested and charged on friday but as journalist shocking notes that he was released only hours later on bill despite the fact that he is admitted to also making threatening and insulting calls to a michigan islamic center only a few months ago. i shocking rights and niches as shaun king rights and interest have -- in california, the san francisco board of supervisors has voted to end the celebration of christopher columbus day. this makes san francisco the latest of more than 50 cities across the u.s. to stop honoring the italian explorer who massacred and enslaved arawak indigenous people and opened the door to the european
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colonization of the americas. instead, san francisco, like other cities, will now celebrate indigenous peoples day on the second monday in october. civil rights leader reverend wyatt tee walker has died at the age of 88. the reverend was martin luther king jr.'s chief of staff and the first full-time executive director of the southern christian leadership conference. he was also a major anti-apartheid activist. he died tuesday in his home in chester, virginia. and celebrated fantasy novelist ursula le guin has also died at the age of 88. the feminist writer was the author of more than 20 novels, more than a dozen collections of poetry, and another dozen children's books. among her most famous works was her 1969 novel "the left hand of darkness." it's set on a planet where people are ambisexual -- neither male nor female -- and contains one of the most famous sentences ever written in a fantasy novel -- "the king was pregnant." ursula le guin's 1974 novel "the dispossessed" is also one of the
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most celebrated explorations of utopia, dystopia, capitalism, anarchism, and oppression. this is ursula le guin, accepting the national book foundation's medal for distinguished contribution to american letters in 2014. >> i think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fears-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being. and even imagine some real grounds for hope. we will need writers who can remember freedom. realistssionaries, the of a larger reality. we live in capitalism.
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its power seems inescapable. so did the divine right of kings. [laughter] [applause] power can be resisted and changed by human beings. resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words. amy: ursula le guin died on monday at her home in portland, oregon, at the age of 88. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from the sundance film festival in park city, utah. the 2018 academy award nominations mark a historic yance ford became the first first. trans director to be nominated for an academy award.
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his film "strong island" is up for best documentary. ford is african-american, chronicling what happened to his own family after his brother was shot dead by a white man in long island, new york, in 1992. the killer was questioned by police, but never charged. this is the trailer to the film. stumbled out of the garage and into the yard. >> i said to the officer, where is my son? i want to be with my son. >> you lie on the ground, bullet through your heart and know you will never see your sisters again, your mother, your father. that was the beginning. >> i did not feel that we were received as parents of a victim. and how tokness
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survive being black in america was something our parents instilled in us extraordinaire leeway. -- extraordinarily well. >> no officer spoke to me. no officer would look at me. >> you hear your son is being investigated and you're more and more afraid. >> the police turned my brother into the prime suspect in his own murder. >> your father said to me, these are vicious people. you're someone shot down like a dog -- your son was shot down like a dog. >> this kid is going to actually get away with murder. >> i'm not willing to discuss any of my prior cases with anybody. >> my brother was not armed, not violent. in no way is his death justifiable. 23 white people will decide no crime has even been committed. --it was like
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acceptnot willing to say someone else gets to who william was. amy: that is the trailer to "strong island," which has just been nominated for an academy award for best documentary. we are joined now in new york by the film's director yance ford, who worked on this documentary for a decade. we are also joined here in park city at the sundance film festival where yance just was, by joslyn barnes, who produced "strong island." she is the co-founder of louverture films. yance ford and joslyn barnes, we welcome you both to democracy now! , congratulations, you have
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not only been nominated for an oscar, but you have made history as the first trans director to ever be nominated by the academy. >> thank you, amy, and good morning. flabbergasted to be honest. has been a labor of love and dedication on the part of so many people, that it is an incredible recognition to be honored and be the first trans director, i believe the first african-american trance director, to be nominated for an academy award is incredibly special, too. and a coke i want to go to a video posted on twitter on tuesday as the oscar nominees were being announced. we were actually live broadcasting democracy now! here in park city, but this isow you see ford and his partner reacted to the news.
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>> oh, my god! oh my god! >> did they even say it? [laughter] amy: there is yance and his partner responding to being named as an oscar nominee. let's talk about this film and this journey you have taken that actually started long before you even started making the film. first of all, tell us what "strong island" means, the title. forstrong island" is slang long island, new york. it grew out of what may surprise people, a grew out of the very vibrant hip-hop scene that is
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located and still generates artists out of long island. "strong island" for kids and for is a term that has always been used to refer to this place where kids from the to the suburbs, but still wanted to hang on to a part of their urban heritage. that is where "strong island" come from. amy: tell us the story of your family. talk about what happened in 1992 to your brother william. >> in 1992, my brother and his girlfriend got into a car accident. my brother negotiated with his girlfriend and the mechanic who hit her car that the shop would prepare it -- repair it if his girlfriend did not report the
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accident to the insurance company or the police. monthsrward about two later, on april 7, after my mother and i brother's girlfriend picked up the car from the garage, they brought it home and work followed home, frankly, by someone on the garage, he went to the garage to confront the owner. named tom. during point, you know, his confrontation with the owner, which was not physical. it was a threat to come back to the garage when he became a law enforcement officer and two reveal what was going on -- the place was a known chop shop -- and shut the place down. garage andut of the william saw him and recognized
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him as the person who had cursed out my mother and his girlfriend on a previous visit to the garage. william comes out, goes right back -- he goes out, and goes right back in. my brother turns the corner and eventually is shot. stumbles back out into the yard where he sort of collides with his friend kevin who heard the .unshot iran toward william he fell to the ground. internally led out by the time he got to sunnybrook university hospital. mark riley was brought before a grand jury in august of that year. an all-white grand jury. what people who have been both inside and outside of prosecutor offices have told me and theircase,
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analysis of the case, that grand jury declined to return an indictment. mark riley went home without facing trial. my family was left to essentially deal with the the civicd failure of institutions that we all had been raised to believe would we followed the old american rules. work, and theyou justice system will work for you when you need it. my brother's case 25 years ago deeply affirms what we're seeing now, which it doesn't matter if you follow the rules. you justice system is not meant to work for people of color in this country. amy: i want to go to another clip from "strong island." yance, this is you, because you're one of the subjects in the film.
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--cap westover of times countless number of times and all hours of the night during the summer after my brother was killed, i could look outside the and there was a car parked across the street. that car and whoever was in that car was watching our house and trying to intimidate my parents. the phone rang in the middle of the night every night for months. when i was home, i unplugged all of the phones in the house except for the one in my room, so that my parents could sleep to the night and would not have to pick up the phone and say "hello" and not have anyone respond. so they would not have to hang up the phone and go to the window and see the car sitting across the street.
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having grown up in the south were the cops and the klan are one and the same, my parents did not turn to the police for protection. they had already felt that the police had turned their own son into the prime suspect in his own murder. e, that is you in the documentary. the interviews with you, with your sister, with your mother are so deeplying, profound as you talk about the death of your brother william, also the death of your family. but how did you go from the murder of your brother to the concept behind this documentary? what you wanted to convey with this?
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also, you used it to investigate your brother's death. >> that's right. amy, i think there are very few people who intersect with issues so personally. and i realized that intersection, that my experience losing my brother and losing my family in the aftermath of his death, you know, i started making the film 15 years after he was killed. i decided that the narrative of his life had been completely rewritten by someone who essentially's freedom was at stake. i needed to correct that record. william to reveal who was, but i also needed to reveal the way in which he was criminalized. so what i decided to do with this film was to put black characters in the center of the
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frame. experiencesir verified by themselves. there is no outside authority in this film that says, yes, you're right, or these people are telling the truth. it was important to me conceptually that the film be driven by black characters. it has so often, black and brown people and folks who lose unarmed loved ones to violence, they get shoved out of the way as if they are somehow unreliable witnesses to the lives of their dead. film,t, the people in the williams best friend kevin that was with him the night he was shot, harvey who knew him from howard university, they are the most reliable people because they are able to talk about william in his full complexity. as opposed to using william to this stereotype, which if you listen to the detective on the
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film, you would think my brother was the incredible hulk. really, my brother was five feet eight and described by the corner as obese. motive, one of the driving motives behind "strong island, st reveal william as the 360 degree character, including his faults. sayingdoing so, still despite all of his faults, despite the fact he might not have been the perfect black victim, this killing was still unlawful and should have gone to trial. amy: yance ford, you ask in this documentary, how do you measure the distance of reasonable fear? explain. fear is thesonable concept that says you are justified in responding to a threat. you know, with deadly force if
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your life is at stake. sort of the driving question in york is because -- new not a standard ground state. it is not one of those states. new york is a state that is governed by laws of proportional force. andmy brother to be unarmed to confront a mechanic, and for him to shoot him despite the fact that william did not have a weapon, you know, it raises the question of how deeply seated the fear of the black body is. the fear of the black man is in our culture. so much so that a grand jury would believe it was justifiable to shoot and kill an unarmed man went -- mr. riley had many other choices that night. his choices were not scrutinized. my brothers choices were scrutinized. so i think it is important to
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interrogate how you measure reasonable fear and who gets to decide who's fear is reasonable. because we see in these cases more often than not, the person who has justification or who has the historical fear as joslyn has explained when talking about the film, actually, the historical fear belongs to the person of color who winds up dead, not to the white person who overreacts with deadly force in the situation. amy: we're going to go to break into the joslyn barnes conversation. we are talking to yance ford, who just made history, the first trans-director, the first trans-african american as well, to be nominated for academy awards. this is democracy now! we will continue to talk about his documentary "strong island." stay with us.
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♪ [music break]
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amy: "all in the western land." this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman. we're broadcasting from the sundance film festival. as we broadcast our show on tuesday, the oscar nominations were announced. it was just about two thirds of the way through the show and it was there that we learned that yance ford had made history, the first trans-director to be nominated for an academy award for his film "strong island." we're also joined in addition to yance ford from his home in queens, new york, we're joined by joslyn barnes, the producer of "strong island."
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i just asked the question, what is the measure of reasonable fear? use that as a launching point to talk about why you got involved, what your film company got involved, and the philosophy behind it? important a really aspect of the film, this questioning of what underpins self-defense cases and how racialized perception is intertwined with the justice system and who gets to decide what is reasonable fear, and then flipping that question, flipping that perspective to talk about who's fear is actually reasonable. from really bringing the historical element and bringing this question of loss and grief and entwining that in our own interrogation with history, with lossistorical weight of
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that has been the experience of the african-american community. i think our company was created to offer a different perspective. particularly perspective that has been marginalized, which are more and more important -- which are more important than ever, i should say, in today's conversation. yance is a truth teller. relationship to the truth and who tells the truth i think has become even more important. amy: as yance a this film over a from over ade this decade, more more police dealings were being made public. i won't say the increase, i was say they are getting more attention. you both decided to edit the film outside of the united states? >> yes, there was a point where yance had a cut/he had been working on the felt for four years when i came into the project and joined yance. we were in dialogue for about a
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year. you put the film on hold for a while to decide how to reconsider the film. i think he felt the film was sitting in the house of grief and there was no place to move from grief. we made a decision to start the edit from scratch. there were killings continuously. we decided to leave the country and actually go overseas so that he could concentrate and fully focus on the creative element. we went to denmark. there was a great editor available there at the time. "the killing"on with joshua oppenheimer. we decided this was -- they met for four days and interrogated each other and decided they could work together. that was a very difficult decision to make and very risky decision to take, but i think yance -- for me, it was important that yance was making
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the film he wanted to make. people refer to the film as personal. i think that is true, but personal is also the language of the dispossessed. nobody wants to make a film about the killing of their brother. this is an artist who i think violencederstood the does not confer what it promises and actually decided to use narrative in cinema to recuperate what was possible through narratives. way.ize the fields that amy: "strong island" is about the killing of an african-american man in long island, new york. the murder of an african-american man by a white mechanic. that man, the white mechanic, was never even charged. a central figure in this documentary is yance's mother.
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i want to turn to a clip of "strong island" of his mom. mom. >> your father said to me, don't do anything to hurt my daughter's. anything to hurt my girls. are vicious people. your son was shot down like a dog. you're not going to be with them always. the girls are all we have left. i wanted him to be angry. i wanted him to be outraged. to -- i wanted him
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to a vengeance my son's death. silent.e amy: that is a clip from yance "strongocumentary island." talk about your mother and how important she is to your family and to understanding what happened to william ford, your brother, and what did not happen to his murderer. is shown in the film in her kitchen, which is the center of our home in the -- the place where i grew up. intrary to what we often see
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the news, right, which is black of grief,their state but not in a place where they are fully aware of an analysis of what is happening. and the structural failures and and analyses of the structural failures. my mother's holy able to explain what happened to our family. she is holy able to explain what in the meetings with the da. and during her testimony before the grand jury. and her analysis was spot on. she wrote a letter to the district attorney saying that they hoped for a full, fair, and impartial investigation because we, too, are the people. and that full, fair, and impartial investigation should
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have resulted in the case going to trial. it did not. and when that happened, when mother was also able to say, you know, that she made the mistake of raising her children to believe that they should judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. i think that is probably one of the bravest things i have ever heard anyone say. and the fact that she happens to be my mother notwithstanding. it tells the truth about america. where you cannot actually assume you are safe with certain people. you could not actually assume someone does not have mal intent. you cannot assume someone does not have a murderous fear of you . and that is why she is so powerful in the film. even though she has lost her , sheborn son, her only son is still able to speak through that grief to a greater truth,
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which is her child should not have been lost without his right to due process being violated. these incomplete investigations, these slipshod investigations, are actually a violation of due process for the dead. because the investigations are the only thing that can speak for them. about herble to talk bothe experience, critically and emotionally, my mother demonstrates that black and brown people are fully aware of the injustices with which we struggle and the structural failures that need to be addressed in our criminal justice system. amy: i want to turn to another clip of your mom in "strong island." 's motherance ford speaking about the loss of person william. >> i thought that i could
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comfort your father or that he would comfort me. i willturned his back over and over -- he could not go any further. further.not go any so i got up and i walked around the bed and i got in front of him. i just said, "it is not your loss. .t is our loss child.ther created this
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grieve what came for my body and shut me out." we both cried. me.mbraced we both cried. and that is how we went to sleep. amy: yance ford come a this is your mother in "strong island," but in interviewing your mother, what did you learn about her that you did not know it all of the years of living with her and knowing her? >> i learned so much about my mother throughout making this film. i think one of the things, though -- or the most important thing that i learned about her was that this demand from my parents that my brother, sister, and i loved each other no matter
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what. these to say, we are not going to be here someday. --n we are gone, you guys you are the only family you will have. onlyact that she not taught and instilled in us, my father as well, this fact that love carried her through 20 years of grief, the love for my sister and i, to find out her love for my father began in the six grade and the fact that her love for my brother was present in each interview as it was as if you were still alive -- she amazinglymazing, eloquent woman who ultimately believed in the power of love to heal. but this was the one thing, this
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injustice, was the thing that love could not actually heal. i think she was glad to have the opportunity to speak or to the power, but love was not enough to repair the breach with our civil society. disappointment and knowing how deeply it -- it waser, that was a difficult thing. but also knowing she was a woman who felt love deeply and was deeply loved, it was an incredible thing to see and an incredible gift that she gave to me. , as we wrap up, you transitioned after making this documentary. i was wondering if you could talk about that process.
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>> you know, amy, mydocumentary. transition was in progress while i was making the film. surgery three years ago this month, actually. i have always been gender nonconforming. i identified as a butch lesbian and i was in my early 20's, even though i did not encounter the word transgender intel 1995 bruce pratt.nni lifeitioning in my private is something that has been -- has been ongoing. the tricky thing, when you are a character, right, you can't actually have your voice change in the middle of postproduction because i might need record additional lines or rerecord things.
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begin hormones until after the picture was locked. but i had -- there is no turning back for me here, as the medical establishment tries to make trans people go through these steps just in case you change your mind. that for me was the easy part. trans director nominated for an academy award, you know, having gone through a process with people who embraced of how identified, with people who were able to turn on a dime and use proper pronouns and respect my gender -- it is even though not new to me and to the people that i hold dear, but it is sort of knew in the public space.
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having that embraced and being respected by my creative team as that process played itself out, was tremendously important. that respect, for me as an someone who is coming to an understanding of how i wanted to be in the world, right? which is my true self, my assent self, is so important. is one of the reasons i'm so proud of "strong island," because the film stands on its own and also allows it to go into communities where it might not otherwise go because of who i am. right? like i know trans-people of color are murdered at such rates in this country every year. it should be treated as a law
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enforcement priority, but it is not. help in anytion can way to advance the issues of fors quality protection lgbtq people under the law, then i am as humbled by that as i am by the nomination. , thank you for being with us, and again, congratulations for making history in different ways because this documentary "sean allen was go is the start -- "strong island" is historic. yance ford is the director of "strong island." he has already received numerous awards for his debut film, including the 2017 special jury award for storytelling at the sundance film festival. it was the most awarded documentary of 2017.
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i want to thank joslyn barnes who will stay with us because "strong island" debuted last year at the sundance film festival. this year, another remarkable "hale county this morning, this evening." stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: "glory" from the movie "selma. on tuesday this week him he was nominated for another oscar for his song "stand up for something" from the film "marshall." we will air our interview with comment. i spoke to him in the midst of a snowstorm on saturday at the women's march your in park city, utah, later in the week. this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman. we are broadcasting from park city, utah, from the sundance film festival. two weeks before he was assassinated 50 years ago, dr. martin luther king, jr. spent the night in hale county,
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alabama, in the heart of the black belt of alabama. he came to greensboro on march 21, 1968, in an effort to rally support for his poor people's campaign. supporters of king had to hide him in a small wooden house on the outskirts of greensboro as members of the ku klux klan tried to hunt him down. it would be the last time king was in hale county, alabama. two weeks later, he was assassinated in memphis, tennessee. the safe house where king stayed is now a museum. well, hale county is the subject of a new documentary here at the sundance film festival. it's titled "hale county this morning, this evening." the documentary looks at life in the predominantly african-american county, which is named after a confederate general. in the film, director ramell ross paints an impressionistic portrait of life in the black belt in the 21st century. ramell ross joins us here in park city, along with the film's producer joslyn barnes, who is the co-founder of louverture films. your film is not about dr. king 50 years ago. it is about people today who
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live there. people have described you as the walker evans of today plus. in fact, you started as a photographer. talk about this highly unusual film, both in form and content. >> the film comes out of a sort of desire to centralize the african-american gays. i came to hale county sort of spontaneously begin to look back at my life as an african american in the u.s. and understood the south as the conceptual home for the african-american. so to pursue that investigation process, was using photography to illustrate or investigate or explore the way in which my perception was gracing the landscape. andt two wonderful fellows begin filming their lives at
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some point. ,sed the camera to relate look to really, really look for really long time and see what unfolds through this process of staring. forthlm, some ways, puts a goal of giving visual attention outside of traditional means to the african-american community. amy: explain what you mean and how you made the transition from photography to film. >> i was making large-format in images. it is a really slow process where you're looking in ground glass and have a little sheet over your head and you're really staring and trying to work the focus out. and looking now way for such a long time and with such detail, in some ways, what happens in front of you but then sort of
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disintegrates and nontraditional means. i like to use the example of when you look at a word of the letters sort of duces csea. you're like, what am i looking at? people don't do that when i look at people. they don't allow the social construction of kolter or the razor whatever to break apart. not to they, african-american community. so the camera, it allows you to spend the time looking in that way. it is amazing what unfolds or what emerges from the process. amy: looking at a review -- and they have been a rate for "hale county." hollywood reporter writes "photographer walker evans and writer james agee compose let us now praise famous men, the famous text and image study of county."hale
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you turn that on its head. you give us a very different picture. joslyn barnes are you produced this film. l's work so unusual for you that you wanted to be a part of this project? >> just want to clarify, i produced a film with ramell andsue kim. i think of the documentary as an encounter. one of the unusual elements of this film is not the centrality of the african-american perspective, but a completely new imaging of african-americans. it really takes a part the historical -- it brings the historical to bear on it, but it also takes it apart. part of it -- the strategy was really in the editing process. it is the looking and interracial aspect of the looking that ramell for that open up a space of reflection for the viewer to enter and
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either make sense of their own experience or coming to something new. so he opened up space. it works in a kind of narrow logical way where -- neurological way where you can follow the grammar of the film, but it also undermines the way that you have been conditioned to look. it is poetic and metaphorical. -- that lets you drop your some of your conditioned responses and see it differently. amy: some may have focused on alabama for the first time with the special election, sexual justtor roy moore, who barely lost to the democrat. but you give us a picture of everyday life in alabama. talk about storytelling. we tell,ly the stories
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it is how we tell the stories. it is also what is the material of the story, what is the arc of the story. i guess in the time of trump, i think personally i focused on not focusing so much on those beginning to end, but all of those middles that are traditionally sort of neutered in order to get to the end. it is him is like corporate language in which every word has some goal. but in that specifically in relationship to blackness, you reduce it to its end goal, therefore, don't allow the beauty of being -- being the human and the story being something larger than it arc or the trajectory of whatever your trying to explain or trying to convey. amy: i hope this is just the beginning of our conversations. congratulations on your film "hale county this morning, this evening."
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, a very happy
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