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Mark Twain Library Kicks Off Black History Month with Film Screening: Let the People Decide

“Let the People Decide” The Big Picture Film Series Presents Documentary and Discussion

“Let the People Decide” is a documentary film project that aims to put into historical context the ongoing struggle in the United States for all citizens to attain equal access to voting. Tracing a timeline over six decades, “Let The People Decide” will highlight key moments in the history of voting in the United States with regard to ideology and race.

Filmmaker Gavin Guerra will share three sections from a rough cut of the film, and answer questions at the Mark Twain Library on Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by The Redding League of Women Voters.

The film—a finalist in the Paley Center DocPitch, a competition that offers a $5,000 grant from A&E IndieFilms for an unfinished or work-in-progress documentary from an emerging filmmaker—focuses on two distinct movements in a “then and now” format:

Act One: The film opens in the state of Mississippi during the early 1960s. Bob Moses of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), leads a voter registration drive in the deadliest, most oppressive state of the old Confederacy with devastating consequences.

Act Two: The second portion of the film focuses on the political fallout in the post-civil rights movement that resulted in the flipping of the south from Democrat to Republican, as well as the advent of racial identity politics as a mainstream political strategy.

Act Three: In the wake of a 2013 United States Supreme Court decision crippling the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we follow Reverend Dr. William Barber II and the North Carolina NAACP as they fight their state legislature’s new voting regulations. The state claims these laws are required to combat “voter fraud”, while the civil rights community claims that this nothing short of a return to Jim Crow and the suppression of the poor and minority voting populations.

Guerra, a visual effects artist for films and advertising, came up with the idea for the film after reading Parting the Waters: America in the King Years (1954-1963), a Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Taylor Branch. Branch’s examination of Bob Moses, a Mississippi civil rights activist, inspired Guerra to pursue the story. He was further motivated after attending a reunion of the cast members of the television series “Roots,” where the actors challenged the audience on their own participation in advancing the causes of equality and social justice.

“I'm trying to create a historical record that can be used for reference when it comes to the struggles and arguments over voting rights,” said Guerra, who recently moved to Weston from Astoria, NY. “I aim to connect the dots from the civil rights movement through today so that people can see how we got here,” he continued. The film comprises dozens of interviews he conducted with Rep. John Lewis, Harry Belafonte, Rev. Dr. Barber, Dick Gregory and others.

Refreshments will be served. Register for this program at www.marktwainlibrary.org, at the Library or call 203 938-2545 for information.

The Mark Twain Library is owned by the Mark Twain Library Association. It was founded in 1908 by Samuel Clemens – Mark Twain himself – one of Redding’s most celebrated residents. Visit www.marktwainlibrary.org, for more information.

 

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