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1971, Not Rated


What began as a documentary on Hampton and the Illinois branch of the Black Panther Party by filmmakers Mike Gray and Howard Alk was transformed into vital evidence that was used to refute the testimony of police officers and news reports after the brutal slaying of Hampton and Panther Mark Clark and the assaults of several others sleeping in Hampton’s apartment. The stark black-and-white footage, which has been recently restored, captures the charismatic Hampton going about the business of the Panther Party, from making speeches to networking with other community initiatives to promoting the Panther vision of health and security for its members and the black community in the face of mainstream attacks. The timing of the police assault on Hampton’s apartment and the ability of Alk and Gray to document the scene a few hours afterward is not just historic but also the smoking gun that indicts the criminal justice system, the community and the nation. This is the heart and soul of documentary filmmaking. This is capturing a moment of crushing truth. (tt stern-enzi) Grade: A