Tonight, Tuesday, February 16, 2016 at 9 PM, Stanley Nelson’s acclaimed new documentary, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” premieres on PBS’ independent film series INDEPENDENT LENS.
The first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails, Nelson goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove 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.
A definitive portrait of the Black Panther Party – its rise and fall – Nelson aims to paint a complete and accurate account of the revolutionary black nationalist organization, a film that should act as a reminder, as well as an education (especially for the uninitiated, unaware of those whose shoulders they stand on).
As Nelson himself states, the rise and fall of the Black Panther Party is a story "that hasn’t been told," adding that, "the Panthers have been part of other films, or there have been stories about individual Panthers. But there’s never been a really great movie about the Black Panther Party."
The documentary not only looks at the rise and fall of the Party, but also its influence on how African Americans think of themselves today, especially in consideration of recent (and ongoing) collective action within communities nationwide, in response to multiple incidents of police brutality that led to fatalities. A key Panther practice was its monitoring of police officers, and challenges of police brutality.
Added Mr. Nelson. “The Black Panthers made an indelible imprint on American culture and politics. The story of their rise and fall is essential history for understanding the times we live in, and the complicated political dynamics that are still at play.”