Free Angela & All Political Prisoners (2012)
Average Rating: 7.1/10
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Average Rating: 6.4/10
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Average Rating: 4.1/5
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Writer/director Shola Lynch follows up her 2004 documentary Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed with this film centered on the struggle of educator and activist Angela Davis, an outspoken UCLA professor whose affiliation with the Communist Party and the Black Panthers landed her on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list while challenging our perceptions of political freedom in America. From her early years as a student in the U.S. and abroad to her highly publicized arrest and trial following the brazen
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Fugitive, radical, communist and philosopher Angela Davis was the lefty hipster's pin-up girl and the right-winger's Afro-ed nightmare, and her authority and charisma are on full display in Free Angela & All Political Prisoners.
"Free Angela and All Political Prisoners" may seem to take place in a distant past, but it resonates with improbable timeliness.
A snappily edited, archivally wallpapered recollection of fearless behavior in the face of an antsy establishment. But it's equally significant as a pointed act of retelling.
Without straining for big-picture significance, it provides a composed look into the revolutionary spirit.
People who weren't around during the '60s-'70s cusp can hardly appreciate just how weird that time was. "Free Angela" brings that weirdness back.
An all too sobering reminder of how, in the purported land of the free, any voices deemed radical and hence dangerous can lead the powers that be to find any remote angle to silence them by whatever force and means they deem necessary.
In spite of its attention-grabbing opening and provocative title, Free Angela And All Political Prisoners is less a work of agitprop than straightforward history, intriguing but never unsettling.
It foists its own retelling of Angela Davis's story over any contemplation of her politics, effectively neutering their power as it could apply to today in the hands of a proper film essayist.
Confidently constructed, and aided by an assured focus, this is a solid tribute a woman who was one of many vital pieces of the civil rights movement, and an insightful study of a time when the American identity was being drastically reshaped.
After watching 'Free Angela and All Political Prisoners,' audiences will walk away rejuvenated, thankful and, surprisingly, even more proud to be an American.
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