Update: We've reached our goal with a week to go! Let's dream bigger. More money means we can expand to more cities like St. Louis, Cleveland and Ferguson!
Audience Award Best of Fest - RiverRun International Film Festival
"An essential history, THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, is a vibrant, human, living and breathing chronicle of this pivotal movement that birthed a new revolutionary culture in America."- Sundance Institute
"Unyielding in its exploration of Black Panther pride, confrontations and in-fighting, THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is a documentary that uses rare footage to chronicle the explosive movement in a most comprehensive way." - NBC News
"A thrilling, comprehensive history of the revolutionary movement that transformed race and class in America, told through meticulous research and astonishing archival materials by MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and Emmy Award winner Stanley Nelson." Museum of Modern Art
"The moment is right for a documentary history of the Panthers." - NY Times
THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION is the first feature length documentary to showcase the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader Americans culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails.
Veteran documentarian Stanley Nelson (FREEDOM RIDERS, FREEDOM SUMMER, JONESTOWN: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PEOPLES TEMPLE, THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL) goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there: police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters and detractors, and Black Panthers who remained loyal to the party and those who left it.
FROM DIRECTOR STANLEY NELSON
Seven years ago, I set out to tell the story of the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party, a little known history that had never been told in its entirety. There is so much we think we know about the Party but I wanted to go beyond the oversimplified narrative of the Panthers as prone to violence and consumed with anger, and explore why so many people joined, what they accomplished, and why it fell apart.
After years of hard work we were thrilled to premiere the film at this year's Sundance Film Festival. The film has gone on to sold-out screenings at festivals in Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis and Los Angeles. The response so far has been amazing, but we have bigger goals for the film.
I made this film with the hope that it would reach diverse audiences - folks who might not attend film festivals or watch PBS.
That is why I am launching this Kickstarter campaign. My goal is to raise $50,000 to support a theatrical release of the film.
In my 20 plus years of independent filmmaking, I've had great success in premiering eight films at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as numerous national PBS broadcasts. However, theatrical releases have always been a challenge, not only for me, but also for the majority of independent documentary filmmakers. Between the high costs of booking and promotion, and the bare bones budgets for indie films, getting a documentary into theaters is next to impossible. I believe this film will be even more powerful on the big screen, where people can share the experience with their peers, youth, elders and other community members who recall that turbulent time. So, in the spirit of the Black Panthers I am taking our cause to the people!
WHY THE STORY OF THE BLACK PANTHERS NOW?
"The issues that the Black Panther Party and other Black Power organizations dealt with in the 1960s continue to be the major issues confronting the black community today...The film is a must-see for all who are looking to better understand where we are at this historical moment and where we might go in the future." - Pan African Film Festival
When people see the film they tell us the same thing, "This film could not have come at a better time."
For us this Kickstarter campaign is about more than just getting into theaters, it's about sparking a national conversation on the conditions that created the Black Panther Party, conditions - like police violence, substandard education, joblessness - that continue to plague us today.
As we witness the similarities between the injustices of yesterday and the tragedies of today, we feel a sense of urgency to share the story of the Black Panther Party. We are struck by the way today's movement around police brutality and accountability is being led by young people seeking change, just as it was with the Black Panther Party almost 50 years ago. We believe we can reach a greater number of young people from diverse communities by bringing the film to theaters across the country.
Ultimately, we want to bring this vibrant chapter in American history to life so that we can all understand it, learn from it and make better decisions - personally and collectively.
WHO IS ON BOARD?
We are fortunate to have the support of an amazing group of organizations and individuals who believe the film needs a wide audience.
HOW WE WILL USE THE FUNDS
Our plan is to open theatrically in at least thirteen cities - New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Chicago, Boston, Portland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Atlanta, Seattle and Washington D.C. PBS Distribution is financially supporting the limited theatrical distribution of the film this fall, so monies raised through this Kickstarter campaign will fund additional promotional support for these screenings.
With 50k we can pay pay for:
- Music rights for the theatrical version of the film
- Targeted online and print advertising in the thirteen cities
- Seasoned publicist with experience reaching young people and communities of color
- Travel costs to bring Black Panthers to screenings
If we exceed our fundraising goal we can expand our list of target cities and deepen our promotional efforts!
THE BLACK PANTHERS will air as a special presentation of INDEPENDENT LENS on PBS in early 2016, but we want to bring the big screen experience to as many communities as possible through a theatrical release.
As thanks for your tax-deductible support we are offering some great rewards; like a private streaming link to view the film, limited edition Black Panther merchandise, tickets to theatrical openings, Google chats with former Panthers like Kathleen Cleaver, signed prints by former Minister of Culture Emory Douglas, DVD box set of my films, and a filmmaking master class in my Harlem studio.
With your tax-deductible support we can bring this powerful story to theaters across the country.
Thank you for your support. And as the Panthers would say, 'All Power To The People!'
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Risks and challenges
Since most of our experience is with television broadcasts, we are new to theatrical releases. We believe this film will do well theatrically, but we cannot guarantee that we will open in all of our target cities. We have the support of PBS Distribution and Long Shot Factory who are experienced in these matters and we are confident that we can make it happen.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)