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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  January 24, 2018 3:00pm-4:01pm 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 onanand th same, my parents did nonot tu to o th police for protection. they already felt the policeadad readady turned their son and as a suspect for murder.
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amy: for theirst time in acady award history tns , a direcector has been nominatd for an oscar. we will speak to yance ford about his documentary "strong island." 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 kler, neverharged 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
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had its world premiere about sexual abuse gold "detail." then "hale county this morning, this evening." a new documentary captures life 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.
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>> the swiss federal council is about to welcome and unrolled the red carpet for mr. trump, but with the people have 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
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carlyle group, which is a major investor in military contractors, as well as telecommunications, fossil fuel companies, financial services , and other industries. 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.
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in kentucky, two high school students were killed and 18 more were wounded after a 15-year-old boy walked into marshall county 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, i can't tell you whole lot about what happened there today because i don't want to do anything to hurtrt 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.
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amy: tuesday shooting was the 11th shooting at a schohool so r this year,r, meaning there has been nearly one school shooting every her day acacross the united statates. on monday, there were two separatete 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 y mayor bill de blasio hasas announced the c cis suing major pharmaceutical manufaurers and d distributors over the opipioid 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 liveve wh
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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 asas worshipers were leaeaving evening prayers. the second bomb exploded 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 northernrn syrian c city a afrin, turkrkes 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 tuturkish offefensive againt afrin has spsparked protests in cities across the world. this is protesester abdul darwi, who is originally from afrin, speaking at a protest inin athe.
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>> right now there is chaos. airstrikes everywhere. he does not air children or 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 thanan 0 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: t the syrian govevernment s denied using chemicacal weaponsn the ongoing g conflict. in afghanistan, isis has come to on the offices of save the children in the eastern city off
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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 operations in afghanistan. in the philippines, more than 50,000 people have been forced to flelee their homes s as mount mayon n has erected spewing lava , and debris f for miles. thereruption h has causedd eartrthquakes, and t the volcanc ash has filled the sky, blanketing whole villages in darkness. amnesty international accused the mexican government of supporting despite threats to theililives. 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 senendina person back to a territory where their life or safety is in danger.. they after day, despite it being afraidid of dying, having threas and attacks against them, their
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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 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
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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 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
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ever written in a fantasy novel -- "the king was pregnant." ursula le guin's 1974 novel "the dispossessed" is also one of the 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.
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realistssionaries, the of a larger reality. we live in capitalism. its power seems i 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
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nominations mark a historic yance ford became the first first. trans director to be nominated for an academy award. 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 garagee and ininto the yarard. >> i said toto the officer, whee is my son? i want to be with my son. >> you lie on the grnd, buet throh h your heart andnow you willever seeour sists agn, your mother, your father. that was the beginning. >> did noteel that t were
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received as parents of a victim. andow toackness survive ing blacin america was somethinouour rentss instilild in us extraordinaire leeway. extraornarily wl. >> nofficer oke toe. no oicer would look at me. >> you hear your son is begg veststiged andndou're morand mo a afrai >> the police turned my broer in the prime suspe in his own rder. your father said to m t these arare cious s ople. you're someone shot down like a dog -- your son was sh down lilike a dog. >> ts kid is gng to acally t away whurder. >> i'm not wilng to diuss y of my ior cas with anybody. >> my brother s not ard, not olent. ino way isis death justifiae.
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23hite peoplwill dide noo crime has ev beeeecommitted. --> it was like acctm not willing say someone else ts t to who william was. amy: that is the trailer to "strong island," which has just been nominated f 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."
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she is the co-founder of louverture films. yance ford and joslyn barnes, we welcome you both to democracy now! , congratulations, you have not only been nominated for an oscar, but you have made history as the first trans director toto ever be nomominated by the academy. >> thank you, amy,y,nd good morning. flabbergasted to be h honest. has been n a labor of love andd dedidication on the part of so many people, that it is an incredibible recognitionon to be honored d and be the firstst trs director, i believe the first african-american trance director, to b be nomiminated fn academy award is incredibly special, too. and a coke i want to go to o a video posted d on twitter on tuesday as the oscar nominees were being announced. we were actually live broadcasting democracy now! here
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in park city, but this is how you see ford and his partner reacted to the news. >> 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. fifirst of all, tell us what "strong islaland" means, the title. forstrong islanand" is slang
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long island, new y york. it grew out of what may surprise people, a grew out of ththe very vibrant hip-p-hop scenene that s 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 t the to the suburbs, but still wawanted to hang on to a papart off theirir urban herita. that is where "strong island" come from. amy: tell us the story of your family. talk about what happenedd in 192 to your brother william. >> in 199292my brother and h his girlfriend got into a car accident. my brother negotiated with his girlfriend and the mechanic who
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hit her car that the shop would prepare it -- repair it if his girlfriend did not report the accident to the insurance company or the police. monthsrward about two later, on april 7, after my mother and i brother's girlfrfriend picked up the car from the g garage, they y brougt home and work followed home, frankly, by someone on the garage, he went to the garage to confront the owner. n named tom. during point, you know, his confrontation n with the owner, which was not physisical. it wasas threaeat to come babaco the garage e when he became a lw enforcemenent officer andnd two revealal what was going on -- te place was a knknown chop shop -- anand shut the place down.
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garage and out of t the william saw him a a recognizezed him as the p person who o had cd out my mother and his girlfriend on a previous visit to the garage.. william comes out, goeses right backck -- - he goeoes out, and s right back in. my brother tururns the corner ad eventutually is shot. stumbles back out into the yard where he sort t of collides s wh his friend kevin whoho heard the ..nshohot iran t toward wilillim he fell to the ground. internanallyed outut by the time he got to sunnybrook univerersity hospital.l. mark riley was brought befororea grand jury in august of that year. an all-white grand jury. what people who have
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been b both inside and outside f prosecutor offices have told me and theircase,e, analysysis of ththe case, that d jury declinened to return an indictment. mark riley wt t home witithout facing trial. my family was left toto essentntially deal with thee t the civicd failure of ininstitututions that we a all d beenen raisesed to b believe wod we followed d the old american rules.. work, and theyou justice systemem will work forou when you need itit. my brotherer's casese 25 years o 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
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clip from "strong island." yance,his is y, because y'rene of thsubjectsn the lm. --capestover ofimes countless numberf times dd alhohours theheight during the summer afr my broer was lled, i uld lookutside t a there w a car parked aoss thstreet. that carnd whoev was in at ca wasatching ou house and trying to intimidate m parents. the ononeang inhe middle the night every night for mohs. when was hom i unplugged all t the pnes s inhe house except for t o one imy room, so thamy parents could sep to the nhtht andould notave picick the phonend say "hello" and not ha anyone respon so they would not have to hang
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up the phone ando o to t window and seehe car sitti across the street. having grown up iththe uth we thehe cs and the klan are one anththe sa, mymy parents did not turno o the police for protection. ththey had already felt at 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 deeplylyg, profound as you talk abobout the deatath of your brother william, also the death of your family. but how did you go from the
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murder of your brother to the concept behind this documentary? what you wanted to convey with this? also, you used it to investigate your brother's death. >> that't's s right. amy, i think there are very few people who intersect with issues so personally. and i i realized that intetersection, that my experiee losing m my brother and losing y family in the aftermath of his death, you know, i started making t the film 15 years after he was killed. i i decided that the narrative f hihis life had been completelyy rewritten by someone who essentially's freedom was at stake. i needed to correct that rereco. william to reveal who was, but i also needed to reveal the way in which he was
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criminalalized. so what i decided to do with this film was to put b black characters in ththe centnter ofe frame. experiencesir verified by thememselves. there is no outside authority in this film that says, yes, you're right,t, or these people are telling the truth. it was important t to me conceptuallyly that the film be driven b 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 peoplple in the williams best friend kevin that was with him the night h he was shshot, harvey who knew him from howard univeversity, they araree most reliaiable people because they are able to talk about
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william in his full complexity. as opposed to using william to thisis stereotype, which if you listen to the detectitive on the film, you would think my y brotr was the incredible hulk. really, mymy brother was five ft eieight and describibed by the corner as obese. motive, one of the driving motives behind "strong islaland, just reveal william as the e 360 degree character, inclcluding his faults. sayingdoingng so,o, still despite all of his faults, despite the e 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 thesosonable
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concepept that says you are justifified in responding to a threat. yoyou know,w, with deadly fororf your lifife is at stake. sort of the driving question in york is bececause -- new not a standard grounund state. it is not one of those states.s. new york is a state that i is governed by laws of proportional force. andnd brother to be unarmed to confront aa mechanic, and for him to shoot him despite the fafact t that william did not ha weapon, you knonow, it raises te question of how deeeeply seated the fear of the black body is. the fear of the black maman is in our cululture. so much so ththat a grand jurury would believe it was justifiable to shoot and kill an unarmed man went -- mrmr. riley had many otr
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choioices that night. his choices were not scrutinized. my brothers choices were scrutinized. so i think it is important to 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 jujustification or who s the historicalal fear as joslyn has explained when talking about the filmlm, 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 situationon. amy: we're going to go to break into the joslyn barnes coconversation. 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
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awards. this is democracy now! we will continue to talk about his documentary "strong island." stay with us. ♪ [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
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yance ford from his home in queens, new york, we're joined by joslyn barnes, the e producer ofof "strong island." 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
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and entwining that in our own interrogation with history, with lossistorical weight of 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
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working on the felt for four years when i came into the project and jojoined yance. we were in dialogue for about a 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.
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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 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 c charged.
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a central figure in this documentary is yance's mother. 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 daugerer's. anying to ht my gis. are vicus peopl youron was st down ke a dog. you're not gng to beith them always the girlare all have left. i wanted h to be angry.
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ii wanted him to be outraged. to -- i wanted him to a vengeance my son's death. silent.e amy: that is a clip from yance "strongocumentary island." talk about your mothther and how important she is to your family and to understanding what happened to william ford, your brother, and what did no happepn to his mururderer. is shown in thehe film in her r kitchen, which is the center o of our home in the
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-- the place e where i grew up. intntry to what we oftenn see the news, right, which is black of grief,their state but not in a place where thehey are fully awarare o of an a anas of f what iss happening. and the structural failures and and analyses of thee strucucturl failures my m mother's holy able to expln what happened to our family. she is holy able to e explain wt i in the meetingsgs with the da. and during her tesestimony befoe ththe grand jujury. and her ananalysis w was spot o. she wrote a letter to ththe didistrict attorney saying thaht they hoped f f a full, fair, and
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impartial i investigation becaue wewe, too, are the p people. and that full, fair, and impartial investigatition should have resulted inin the case g gg to trial. it did not. and when that happened, when mother was also able to say, you knowow, that she made the mistae of r raising her children to bebelieve e that they shshould e people by the content of theheir character ratherer than the colr ofof their skin. i think t that is probably one f the e bravest things i have ever hearard anyone say. anand the fact ththat she h hapo be my y mother notwithststandin. it tells the truth about america. where you cannot actctually asse you arare safe w with certain people. you could not t actually assume someone does not have mal intent. you cannot assume someone does not have a a murderous f fear ou . and that is why she is so
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powerful in the filmlm. even thougugh she has lostst her , shebororn son, her only son is stillll ablble to speak throh that gririef to a greater truth, whwhich is her child should d nt hahave beeeen lost without hisit to due process being violated. these incomplete investigations, these slipshod investigations, are actually a vioiolation of de prococess for the dead. because the investigations are the onlyly thing that can speak for them. about herble to talk bothe experieience, critically and emotionally, my mother demonstrates that black and brown people are fully aware ofof the injustices with which e struggle andnd the strtructural 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
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speaking about the loss of person william. >> i thoughtht that i could cocomfort your father o or thate would comfort me. i willturned his back ovovernd over --e e coulnot t go any fuher. furth.n go a so got up d i walk around the bnd i gotn front him. i ju said, "it is not urur loss .t i our loss cread this
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grieve what cameor my body and shut me o." we both ied. 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 ththe years of living with her d knowing her? >> i learned so much about my mother throughout making this film. i think k one of the things, though -- or the most importrtat thing thatat i learned aboutt hr
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was that this demand from myy parents that my b brother, sist, and i loved each other no matter what. the to say, we are not going be here s someday. --n we are gone, you guys you u are the only f family youl hahave. onlnlyt that she nonot taught andnd instilled in n us,y father a as well, thihis fact tt love carrieded her through 20 years of grief, , the love f foy 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 aliveve -- she amamanglymazing, eloquent woman w u ultimately
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believed in the e power off lovo heheal. but this was the one thing, this injustice, was the thing t that love could notot actually y al. i thinink she e was glad to have opportunity to speak or to the power, but love was not enough to repaiair the b breach with or cicivil society. disappointmtment and knowing how deeply it -- it wasas, that was a difficult thing. but also k knowing she was a w n who felt l love deeplply and was deeply loved, it was a an incrediblele thing to see and an incredible gift that she gave to me. , as we wrap up, you transitioned after making this
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documentary. i was wondering if you could talk about that process. >> you knonow, amy, mydocumenta. 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 l lifeioning in my private is something that has been -- has been ongoing. the tricky thing, when you are a character, right, you can't
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actualally have your voice chane in the middle of postproduction because i might need record additional lines or rererecord things. begin hormones until after the picture was lockeked. but i had -- there is no turning back for me here, as the medical establishment tries to make transs 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 knknow, having gone througha process with people who embraced of how idenentified, with people who werere able to turn on a dime and use proper pronouns and respepect my gender -- it is evenen though
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not new toe and to the people that i hold dear, but it is sort of knew in the public space. 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. i 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 intoto c cmunities w where it mt not otherwise g go because of wo i am. righght? like i k know trans-people o of
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color are murdered at such rates in this country every year. it s should be treated as a law enforcement priority, but it is not. help in anytion can wawa 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. , ththank you for being with us, andnd again, congratulations for making hihistory in differerent 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 receieived numers awards for his debut fililm,
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inincluding ththe 2017 special y award for storytelling at the sundance film festival. it was the most awarded documentary of 2017. 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 tuesdsday this week himim hes 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
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film festival. two weeks before he was assassinated 50 years ago, dr. martin luther king, jr. spent the night in hale county, alabama, in the heart of the black belt of alabama. heame to grereensboron march 21, 1968, in an effort to ray suort for hihis pooreople'ss mpaiaign supporrsrs of ng had thide him in amall woon house e outskis of gresboro as mbers ofhe ku kl klan trd to hunhim down. it woulde the last time ng was in hale coun, alabama. twtwo weeks lalater, he was assassinateded 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.
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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 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
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landscape. andt two wonderful fellows begin filming their lives at 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
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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 disintegrates and nontraditional means. i like to use the example of when you look at a worord of the letters sortrt 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 f kolter or the razor whatever to break apart. not to they, african-american community. so the camera, it allowsws you o spend the time l looking in that way. it is amamazing whwhat unfolds r what emerges from the process. amy: looking at a review -- and they have been a rate for "hale county." hollywooood reporter wrwrites "photographeher walker evans and writiter james a agee compose ls now praise famous men, the
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famous text and image study of county."hale 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
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interracial aspect of the looking that ramell for that open up a space of reflection for the viewer to enter and 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.
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talk about storytelling. we tell,ly the stories it is how we t tell the stories. it is also what isis the materil 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 middleses 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
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convey. amy: i hope this is just the beginning of our conversations. congratulations on your film "hale county this morning, this evening." , a very happy
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man: : ladieses and gentlemen, pplease welcome "bioioneers" assocociate producer j.p. harprpignies. [applause] harpignieies: welcome, fellow creatures. um, so i i have the great privilege of servining-- ahem--on a team that reviews hundreds of projects from around the world. very inspiring project, in a way, very similar to what you've just seen, for the buckminster fuller chahallenge, whwhich is an annul prize that has been called, um, socially responsiblble design's higighest award. of course now, with the biocr


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