“Freedom Riders” Film Screening October 20 in Chapel Hill


The documentary Freedom Riders, recent winner of three Emmy Awards, is the powerful, harrowing, and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.

Thursday, October 20, 6:30 p.m.
Directed by Stanley Nelson, Produced by Laurens Grant
The Varsity Theatre, 123 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Free Admission: Tickets Available at the Varsity Theatre Box Office

Followed by a Discussion with Playwright Mike Wiley and Producer Laurens Grant

Freedom Riders, directed by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Wounded Knee, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, The Murder of Emmett Till), features testimony from a fascinating cast of central characters: the Riders themselves, state and federal government officials, and journalists who witnessed the Rides firsthand. The two-hour documentary, a production of American Experience (WGBH/Boston), is based on Raymond Arsenault’s book Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.

The free screening is presented in conjunction with the professional premiere of The Parchman Hour: Songs and Stories of the ’61 Freedom Riders, a play by Mike Wiley, at PlayMakers Repertory Company October 26-November 13, 2011. The Center for Documentary Studies is co-producer.

Once the Freedom Riders reached Mississippi, more than 300 of them were imprisoned in the state’s notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary, where they invented an ingenious pastime to help them endure: a live variety show inspired by programs then popular on radio and television. Jokes, stories, singing, and Bible readings sprang from every cell. This nightly event became known as “The Parchman Hour.” With characters such as Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, The Parchman Hour honors this important piece of history.

Mike Wiley created the play while he was the Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Professor of Documentary Studies and American Studies at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010.

More about the play: http://www.playmakersrep.org/theparchmanhour.

The screening of Freedom Riders is presented by PlayMakers Repertory Company and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, in conjunction with the Ackland Art Museum’s Film Forum and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

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