For years Martin Luther King Jr, the leader and hero of the civil rights movement, faced constant surveillance and harassment by the US government.
Helping us to learn more about this dark chapter in America’s history is award-winning director, editor and producer, Sam Pollard, whose latest film MLK/FBI premieres on January 15th 2021, ahead of Martin Luther King Jr Day on January 18th.
As a filmmaker with a career spanning more than three decades, Sam Pollard has won three Emmys and along with Spike Lee received an Oscar nomination for Four Little Girls (1997) . He is a teacher at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, and a member at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
MLK/FBI is not a biopic. It is a complex and nuanced story with a clear protagonist, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and the antagonist, J Edgar Hoover, who served as the Director of the FBI for almost four decades. Each man had his fatal flaws and each man had his own view of what America should be.
“I’m someone who would do a survey film about anything and anybody. I want to be able to dig in as an anthropologist and archaeologist, to look at the pros and cons, and nuances of human beings and different institutions.” – Sam Pollard
02:47 – The film we are talking about today with our guest Sam Pollard.
04:00 – When MLK/FBI is being released and what the film is about.
05:40 – The FBI’s surveillance of American citizens, including Martin Luther King Jr.
09:30 – How FBI turned onto MLK’s private life and his extra-marital affairs to discredit him.
11:35 – What mass media were like at the time of MLK’s activities.
13:00 – Who J Edgar Hoover was, his power and influence in the USA.
17:20 – Why MLK/FBI is made now and why it turns out to be so relevant to this time.
19:45 – Why 2020 felt very much like 1968.
23:00 – How recent history has never ceased to surprise us.
26:50 – What the director’s responsibility is when making a film about Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
32:00 – MLK and J Edgar Hoover as the protagonist and antagonist in the film.
34:30 – Why all the participants in the film are commenting off camera.
37:00 – Why FBI tapes about MLK should be released.
40:30 – Sam Pollard’s memories of US society and politics in the 1970s and 1980s.
43:18 – Where the documentary film industry is heading.
46:00 – The next project Sam is working on.
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The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.: From “Solo” to Memphis, a book by David J. Garrow
Eyes on the Prize (1990)
Sinatra: All or Nothing at All (2015)
This is Distorted