On Friday, Oct. 4, Jada Pinkett Smith and Peggy Siegal presented a special luncheon to celebrate Shola Lynch's documentary "Free Angela and All Political Prisoners." While Jada (who is one of the executive producers on the film) was unable to attend, a fabulous group of New York City influencers gathered at Brasserie Ruhlmann in the heart of midtown to meet the film's subject Angela Davis. Notables in attendance included Vivica A. Fox, Yaya Alafia, her husband Joshua Bee Alafia, Nikki M. James, Celia Weston, Geoffrey Fletcher and Paul Haggis. Davis flew in from California for the lunch and to present a screening to the National Board of Review.
Awards season is upon us and "Free Angela" is a strong contender in the documentary category. "I have to say that what drew me to the story is...you rarely see women - complex, powerful, beautiful women as truly the lead character and here was a story where Angela Davis is absolutely the lead character and she's a real person...The other part that I liked about the journey of making this film is that it really couldn't have happened without the women behind the scenes...there are two women in France who are producers that raised a third of the budget...two countries, eight years, over a million dollars," writer/director/producer Shola Lynch told the crowd. She thanked Sidra Smith, who was in attendance, for producing the film. Sidra then called Jada Pinkett Smith for further support so that Shola could finish the film.
Next Angela Davis said a few words to the crowd. "We were talking a few moments ago about what I might be doing now had I not been arrested, had none of that drama happened and no one ever asked me that question, so I thought for a moment and I said, 'I would probably be doing very much the same thing that I'm doing now, except that I wouldn't be the center of attention and I would probably be enjoying it more because I was not the center of attention.' Shola approached me some years ago about this film and I was skeptical, as I have been with respect to all the other film proposals that people brought to me, but I had seen the Shirley Chisholm film...and Shirley Chisholm really is an unsung hero, there would be no Barack Obama without Shirley Chisholm and I worked with Shirley for a number of years...and I saw things in that film that I had never been able to surmise before. I did not know the back story of what happened with respect to her. So I suppose I was especially open to Shola's proposal because I appreciated her Shirley Chisolm film so much, but I never expected ["Free Angela"] would be a film that would show in the theaters, this was actually before Netflix..."
Davis continued that she likes to work "in the background" behind the scenes, "so I thought it might be important for young people who didn't experience that era, as well as for people who did experience that era, to remember that there was this important victory."
Film Synopsis: "Free Angela" tells the dramatic story of how a young professor’s social justice activism implicates her in a botched kidnapping attempt that ends with a bloody shootout, four dead, and her name on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. In this historical vérité style documentary, marking the 40th anniversary of her acquittal on charges of murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy, Angela Davis recounts the politics and actions that branded her a terrorist and simultaneously spurred a worldwide movement for her freedom as a political prisoner. Strong, attractive, and engaging, Angela Davis is one such person who became a symbol at the center of this still relevant power struggle. "Free Angela" was distributed by Codeblack Films.