Entertainment & Arts

Documentary Inspired By Charles Blow’s Bestseller ‘The Devil You Know’ Coming From HBO Documentary Films And This Machine

EXCLUSIVE: Production is underway on a feature documentary from HBO Documentary Films and This Machine inspired by New York Times columnist Charles Blow’s book The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto.

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Sam Pollard and Llewellyn Smith are directing the as-yet-untitled documentary. Blow’s book, published last year, “calls for a reverse ‘great migration’ of African Americans from the North back to the South to reclaim the land, political representation, and culture that they left behind,” according to a release from HBO, “and in so doing, forever transform the power structure in America.”

Between 1916 and 1970 roughly six million African Americans migrated from the rural South to other parts of the country, to seek better economic opportunities and to escape Jim Crow segregation. Blow writes in his book, “Black people fled the horrors of the racist South for so-called liberal cities of the North and West, trading the devil they knew for the devil they didn’t, only to come to the painful realization that the devil is the devil.”

If racism exists everywhere in the U.S., Blow argues, that eliminates one rationale for African Americans to live outside the South. Not only that, he says the South of today is thriving economically, offering Black people a better standard of living in general than they enjoy in Northern, Midwestern and Western cities. He also writes that African Americans can create greater social change by living in the South: “The mission begins with the states, which are the true centers of power in this country, and as such control the lion’s share of the issues that bedevil Black lives: criminal justice, judicial processes, education, health care, economic opportunity and assistance.”

In a statement accompanying the announcement of the documentary production, Blow said, “It’s rare — and enlightening — for an essayist to have an opportunity to test a proposition after it has been pushed out into the world. With this film, I have that opportunity. And, it’s making me more resolute in my beliefs rather than weakening them.”

Director Sam Pollard
HBO Documentary Films

Pollard’s credits include 4 Little Girls, MLK/FBI, Citizen Ashe, and Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me. Commenting on the Charles Blow documentary project, he said, “I didn’t realize how complicated an undertaking this filmic journey would be until we began shooting with Charles in Georgia, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and interacting with his family, friends, and more. This will give audiences the opportunity to ride with Charles as he takes on challenges that we all must face, not just as African Americans, but as a nation if we are ever going to have substantive racial and economic change.”

Smith is a duPont Award winner; his extensive credits include directing Herskovits at the Heart of Blackness.

Director Llewellyn Smith
Director Llewellyn Smith
HBO Documentary Films

“Filming with Charles as he explores his reverse migration thesis with teachers, politicians, grassroots organizers, business folk and others has been eye-opening,” Smith said in a statement. “He poses a host of unsettling questions — was the Civil Rights Movement an unacknowledged failure? What is the legacy of the Great Migration? Can Black northerners look beyond their stereotypes and fantasies about the South? His fascination with politics and history takes the film into some challenging places.”

The untitled documentary is directed by Pollard and Smith and produced by Pollard, R.J. Cutler of This Machine, Elise Pearlstein, and Kelly Thomson. Executive producers are Charles Blow, David Kuhn, Todd Shuster, and Trevor Smith. Blow is represented by WME and Aevitas Creative Management. This Machine, a division of Sony Pictures Television, is represented by WME, Jeanne Newman at HJTH, and 42West.

Share this news on your Fb,Twitter and Whatsapp

File source

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button