REVIEW: ‘Freedom Summer’ a must see at Full Frame

Apr. 02, 2014 @ 11:49 AM

Fifty years after 700 college students from across the country joined African-American organizers to get out the vote in Mississippi, the documentary “Freedom Summer” reflects on that tumultuous time with those who lived through it. The film will screen Saturday during the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in downtown Durham.

Filmmaker Stanley Nelson wrote, directed and produced the documentary film that will premiere on PBS on June 24. It is part of PBS’ American Experience history series. Nelson will participate in a question and answer session after the screening at Full Frame.
Through footage from that summer of 1964 and in recent interviews with those who were there, viewers are able to grasp the scope of what the students faced, and some of what African-Americans living in Mississippi faced. The first two students to arrive ahead of the others – one black and one white – disappeared and were later found murdered. Footage shows the emotional aftermath and young people who continued on with their mission under the threat of more violence. It shows white students who made new friends with the local African-American families who hosted them. It also shows angry racist whites in Mississippi who were outraged at the perceived interlopers.
As these years bring landmark anniversaries of the civil rights movement in the U.S., Americans are and should be reminded of the lives lost, risks taken and blood shed for basic rights. “Freedom Summer,” for those who were born after 1964, brings home a time when wanting to vote meant threats of death on one extreme end, and losing your job on the other. It’s a reminder why any new restrictions on voting, in particular those that impact African-American voters, are worth close scrutiny.
If you can’t make it to Full Frame to see “Freedom Summer,” you’ll be able to see it on public television and spend some time reflecting on America then and America today.

WHAT: “Freedom Summer”
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday, followed by a question and answer session with filmmaker Stanley Nelson
WHERE: Cinema 4, Durham Convention Center
301 W. Morgan St., Durham
TICKETS: $15 per film. Full schedule and ticket information at