MetroFocus: August 17, 2021

METROFOCUS NYC HOMECOMING WEEK SPECIAL

MAYOR TEAMS UP WITH ROOFTOP FILMS TO FEATURE “BLOOD BROTHERS: MALCOLM X AND MUHAMMAD ALI”

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the City of New York has partnered with Rooftop Films, a New York non-profit cultural institution and home for independent films for over twenty-five years, to present six free outdoor film and TV screenings this NYC Homecoming Week. The screenings will be located across all five boroughs of New York City to celebrate the Big Apple’s comeback, and will showcase projects that capture the vitality and courageous resilience of New Yorkers. In keeping with that spirit, tonight we preview one of those projects- the upcoming Netflix documentary “Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali” and welcome both the film’s director Marcus A. Clarke as well as the President of Rooftop Films, Dan Nuxoll.

For more information on “Blood Brothers: Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali,” click here.

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

NEW YORK CITY HOMECOMING WEEK IS A CELEBRATION OF NEW YORKER'S RESILIENCY, FEATURING FREE CONCERTS AND SOCIAL EVENTS.

IT IS COMING JUST AROUND THE CORNER.

THE MAYOR BILL de BLASIO ANNOUNCED THAT AS PART OF THE CELEBRATION, THE CITY WILL BE PARTNERING WITH ROOFTOP FILMS TO HOST FREE OUTDOOR FILM SCREENINGS IN EACH BUREAU.

ONE OF THESE FILMS IS THE UPCOMING NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY 'BLOOD BROTHERS: MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI,' WHICH TELLS THE STORY OF THE TWO FIGURES OF THE 20th CENTURY.

JOINING ME NOW TO DISCUSS THAT FILM AND NEW YORK CITY'S HOMECOMING CELEBRATION IS MARCUS CLARK, THE DIRECTOR.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS'.

THANK YOU.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

I APPRECIATE YOU TAKING THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IMPORTANT FILM TODAY.

AND WE'RE JOINED BY THE PRESIDENT OF ROOFTOP FILMS.

DAN, WELCOME TO THE SHOW.

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

VERY HAPPY TO BE HERE.

DAN, I WANT TO START WITH YOU VERY QUICKLY AND ASK YOU TO TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION AND NOT ONLY WHAT IT IS THAT YOU DO BUT WHY YOU PARTNERED WITH THIS PARTICULAR CELEBRATION OF NEW YORK.

SURE.

SO ROOFTOP FILMS IS A NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION.

WE DO A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS TO SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES AROUND NEW YORK CITY AND ESPECIALLY TO SUPPORT THE INDEPENDENT FILM WORLD.

SO WE DO A LOT OF THINGS INCLUDING GIVING OUT GRANTS TO FILM MAKERS TO HELP THEM MAKE THEIR NEXT FILMS AND SUPPORT FILM MAKERS ALONG THE WAY.

THE THING THAT WE'RE BEST KNOWN FOR IS FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS WE HAVE HAD A ROOFTOP SUMMER SERIES, WHICH IS A SUMMER LONG OUTDOOR FILM FESTIVAL WHERE WE SCREEN FILMS FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD IN SCENIC LOCATIONS ALL ACROSS NEW YORK CITY.

ORIGINALLY WE WERE ONLY ON ROOFTOPS.

WE EXPANDED TO PARKS AND PEERS AND VARIOUS OTHER LOCATIONS ALONG THE WAY.

AND WE DO IN A NORMAL YEAR ABOUT 45 TO 50 OUTDOOR SCREENINGS.

MOST OF THEM IN NEW YORK PREMIERS FOR INDEPENDENT FILMS IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS IN NEW YORK.

LAST YEAR WE HAD, YOU KNOW, LAST YEAR WAS A VERY DIFFERENT YEAR AND, YOU KNOW, OBVIOUSLY MOST MOVIE THEATERS WERE SHUT DOWN INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY IN NEW YORK CITY FOR MOST OF LAST YEAR, WE OPENED TWO DRIVE-INS, ONE IN QUEENS AND ONE IN BROOKLYN.

WE'RE ABLE TO KEEP THINGS GOING THROUGH THE ENTIRE PANDEMIC AND PRESENT NEW INDEPENDENT FILMS LIKE THE ONE WE SPECIALIZE IN SHOWING IN BOTH OF OUR LOCATIONS.

ALONG THE WAY, WE HAVE BEEN A COLLABORATIVE ORGANIZATION.

WE WORK WITH A LOT OF DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS OVER THE YEARS AND WE WORKED WITH DIFFERENT AGENCIES AND PARKS IN OTHER CAPACITIES THROUGHOUT THE YEAR.

AND LAST YEAR, WE WORKED WITH THE CITY TO HELP OPEN THOSE TWO DRIVE-INS TO KEEP CINEMA ALIVE IN NEW YORK CITY.

SO WHEN WE HEARD THAT WE WERE, YOU KNOW, GOING -- SINCE WE HAD ESTABLISHED A REALLY GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH SOME PEOPLE IN THE MAYOR'S OFFICE IN THAT PROCESS BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO PRESENT IN OVER 150 FILM SCREENINGS TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE AND SOUND WHILE WE WERE DOING IT, LAST YEAR WE WERE VERY HONORED WHEN THE CITY REACHED OUT TO US THIS YEAR ABOUT THE HOMECOMING NYC ORGANIZATIONS THEY WERE GOING TO BE DOING.

THEY'VE GOT FIVE BIG CONCERTS THAT ARE HAPPENING INCLUDING A VERY, VERY BIG ONE IN CENTRAL PARK HAPPENING ON THE 21st OF AUGUST.

BUT THEY TOLD US THEY WANTED TO INCLUDE A FILM PRESENTATION AS WELL.

BECAUSE WE HAD DONE SO MUCH TO KEEP THINGS ALIVE LAST YEAR IN NEW YORK, THEY ASKED IF WE COULD BE OPEN TO COPRESENTING THOSE SCREENINGS WITH THEM.

WE OF COURSE WERE VERY HONORED AND EXCITED TO DO THAT.

WE REALIZED IT WAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO REACH A WIDER AUDIENCE AND BRINGING THEM TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK CITY INCLUDING A LOT OF AREAS THAT ARE OFTEN CULTURALLY UNDERSERVED BY ORGANIZATIONS AROUND THE CITY.

THAT'S THE MEDIUM LENGTH VERSION OF ALL OF THIS.

AND OF COURSE, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE GOT SIX FANTASTIC SCREENINGS ACROSS THE FIVE BURROWS OVER THE COURSE OF FIVE DAYS.

WE HAD BEEN TALKING TO NETFLIX AND SAW A ROUGH CUT OF MARCUS' FILM A WHILE BACK.

IT OCCURRED TO US THAT THIS COULD BE A PERFECT FIT FOR THIS SERIES.

WE WERE GLAD IT ALL CAME TOGETHER.

SPEAKING OF GREAT INDEPENDENT FILMS AND FILM MAKERS, MARCUS, TELL US ABOUT THE IMPETUS OF THIS FILM BECAUSE OF COURSE WE ALL KNOW THE TWO NAMES, MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI.

WHAT IS IT YOU WANTED TO BRING TO THE FOREFRONT TO THE PUBLIC'S AWARE AWARENESS?

I THINK THEY'RE THE MOST REVERED AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE 20th CENTURY.

WE KNOW THERE ARE DOCUMENTARIES THAT FOCUS ON BOTH OF THEIR LIVES.

BUT I DON'T THINK PEOPLE ARE FAMILIAR WITH HOW INTIMATE AND HOW REAL THEIR FRIENDSHIP WAS AND THEIR BOND WAS, AND THAT'S SOMETHING MYSELF, YOU KNOW, EVEN GROWING UP KNOWING ABOUT MALCOLM X, KNOWING THE HISTORY, I WAS VERY UNFAMILIAR WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT THE PROJECT JUST HOW REAL THEIR FRIENDSHIP WAS.

SO A LOT OF THE PROJECT FOR ME WAS A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF DISCOVERY IN FINDING OUT HOW MUCH OF THIS STORY CAN WE BRING TO THE SCREEN?

HOW MUCH HAS BEEN CAPTURED IN ARCHIVAL FOOTAGE IN THE PAST AND WHAT CAN WE BRING FORWARD TO SHOW WHAT THIS RELATIONSHIP IS ABOUT.

I THINK PEOPLE WILL BE INCREDIBLY SURPRISED TO SEE HOW MUCH INFORMATION AND INSIGHTS THEY GLEANED FROM EACH OTHER.

THESE ARE TWO MEN WHOSE RELATIONSHIP WAS REALLY BRIEF.

IT WAS A THREE-YEAR CONCENTRATED POTENT PERIOD OF TIME BETWEEN 1962 AND 1965.

IN THAT THREE-YEAR PERIOD, THEIR PATHS CROSSED AND THE TRAJECTORY OF BOTH THESE MENS' LIVED CHANGED, CHANGED FOREVER.

I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW AND NEED TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT RELATIONSHIP WAS ABOUT, HOW IT FORMED, WHAT DID THEY SHARE TOGETHER AND THE UNFORTUNATE OCCURRENCE OF HOW THIS RELATIONSHIP KIND OF FELL APART.

OF COURSE.

NOW ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING WAS YOU, OF COURSE, DO HAVE INTERVIEWS WITH PEOPLE WHO WERE SPEAKING ABOUT OR KNEW THEM.

HE DESCRIBED THEM AS TWO OF THE MOST FREE BLACK MEN IN THE 20th CENTURY.

HOW WOULD YOU INTERPRET THAT?

WELL, I THINK THAT BOTH MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI ARE HEROES TO SO MANY OF US.

THEIR INSPIRATION, THEIR MOTIVATION, THEIR COURAGE, THEIR BRAVERY.

AND I THINK, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF WHAT WE ADMIRE ABOUT THESE TWO MEN COMES OUT OF THAT, COMES OUT OF THESE FEELINGS THAT WE FAKE FROM WHEN WE SEE THEM ACHIEVE, SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER.

YOU KNOW, PEOPLE HAVE TO REMEMBER THE 1960s WAS A VERY DIFFERENT TIME PERIOD, YOU KNOW, DEALING WITH SEGREGATION, THE TREATMENT OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THIS COUNTRY, THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, JIM CROW.

AND SO THE CONDITIONS, EXTERNAL CONDITIONS THESE MEN FACED AT THAT TIME WERE SEVERE.

YOU KNOW, IT IS ARGUABLE WHETHER OR NOT THINGS HAVE GOTTEN SO MUCH BETTER OR NOT.

ITEND TO THINK THEY HAVE, BUT THAT TIME PERIOD WAS EXTREMELY EXPLOSIVE.

SO FORMAL COME X SPEAKING THE WAY HE WAS SPEAKING, SPEAKING AGAINST THE OPPRESSION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THIS COUNTRY AND MOHAMED ALI ALSO DISPLAYING AN IMMENSE AMOUNT OF PROUD AND DIGNITY IN ALL THE THINGS HE WAS DOING AND ALSO BEING VERY DEFIANT.

YOU KNOW, HISTORY CHANGES THE LEGACY OF MEN.

AND BOTH OF THEIR LEGACIES OVER TIME HAVE SHIFTED.

THEY HAVE CHANGED.

THE NARRATIVE HAS CHANGED.

SO WHEN WE SAYS THEY'RE SOME OF THE FREEST MEN OF THE 20th CENTURY, I THINK THAT'S WHAT HE'S REFERRING TO.

IT IS THEIR COURAGE, THEIR PRIDE AND THEIR ABILITY TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST IMMEASURABLE ODDS.

I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT'S INCREDIBLY ADMIRABLE FOR EVERYONE, FOR AMERICANS, FOR PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD WHEN IT COMES TO SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER AND TRUTH TO OPPRESSION.

OF COURSE.

WHILE THERE ARE DEFINITELY SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THAT PERIOD OF THE 1960s AND THIS PERIOD WE'RE LIVING THROUGH NOW, I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO DRAW SIMILARITIES AND SEE SOME OF THE STRUGGLES WE'RE STILL DEALING WITH.

WHY WAS IT IMPORTANT THAT THIS FILM DEBUT IN A PARK IN HARLEM OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?

YEAH.

WELL, I MEAN, CERTAINLY OF COURSE MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI WERE NOT JUST LOCAL FIGURES.

THEY WERE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FOR THE INCREDIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS THAT THEY MADE ON SO MANY FRONTS.

SO IT IS CERTAINLY NOT A STORY THAT IS SPECIFICALLY JUST NEW YORK.

BUT OF COURSE BOTH OF THEM DO HAVE TIES.

HARLEM WAS VERY MUCH A CENTER OF THE BLACK FEDERATION MOVEMENT THEN AND NOW SO, YOU KNOW, WE CERTAINLY FELT LIKE THERE ARE CERTAINLY CONNECTIONS FOR BOTH OF THEM TO THAT NEIGHBORHOOD AND TO NEW YORK CITY MORE BROADLY.

SO THAT WAS DEFINITELY A BIG PART OF WHY WE WANTED TO INCLUDE.

ALSO EVERYTHING MARCUS WAS SAYING ABOUT THE 1960 AND WHAT AN EXPLOSIVE AND RAPIDLY CHANGING TIME IT WAS, A TIME OF GREAT POLITICAL AWAKENING FOR SO MANY PEOPLE, WHITE, BLACK AND OTHERWISE, THERE WERE A LOT OF RESIDENCES THERE.

THAT'S A LITTLE BIT FURTHER IN THE PAST.

WE WANTED THE FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM, THEIR OWN MOVIES, WE WANTED THEM TO BE SPEAKING TO THE MOMENT AND WE CERTAINLY FELT LIKE THESE WERE ALL ISSUES THAT ARE AS ALIVE TODAY AS THEY WERE BACK THEN.

I THINK ANYONE WHO DIDN'T REALIZE THAT REALIZED IT ONCE, YOU KNOW, LAST YEAR UNFOLDED AND ALL OF THE VARIOUS DEMONSTRATIONS PLAYED OUT ALL ACROSS AMERICA, BUT PARTICULARLY NEW YORK.

YOU KNOW, MY EXPERIENCE OF BEING HERE IN NEW YORK CITY DURING, YOU KNOW, SOME OF THE PROTESTS THAT WERE HAPPENING LAST YEAR AND VARIOUS DEMONSTRATIONS THAT WERE GOING ON WAS AN INCREDIBLY MEANINGFUL TIME.

I SAW DEMONSTRATIONS UNFOLD ALL ACROSS THE CITY, PEOPLE TAKING BACK PUBLIC SPACE TO VOICE THEIR CONCERNS IN A WAY THAT I PERSONALLY IN ALL MY YEARS OF LIVING IN NEW YORK HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

WE WANTED A FILM THAT CON TECH CHURLIZES THAT A BIT.

OF COURSE HARLEM IS A PERFECT PLACE FOR IT.

WHEN WE WERE LOOKING FOR DIFFERENT PARKS FOR SCREENING IT, JACKIE ROBINSON BEING NAMED AFTER AN ATHLETE WHO NOT ONLY CHANGED THE WORLD OF SPORTS BUT ALSO CHANGED THE WORLD OF, YOU KNOW, THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT HERE IN NEW YORK CITY SIMULTANEOUS, IT SEEMS LIKE A NATURAL FIT AND SOMETHING WE PROVIDED.

IT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BRING A FILM LIKE THIS TO A COMMUNITY THAT WILL PARTICULARLY RESONATE WITH.

ABSOLUTELY.

OF COURSE.

WERE YOU GOING TO ADD SOMETHING?

YEAH.

I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY I AGREE.

I THINK THE IDEA OF PREMIERING IT IN HARLEM IS INCREDIBLE.

MALCOLM X IS A HARLEM FIGURE.

A LOT OF THE MOST IMPORTANT WORK HE DID WAS IN HARLEM.

HE'S A LEGEND OF HARLEM.

HIS HEADQUARTERS WAS AT THE TERESA HOTEL, WHICH WAS ALSO BRIEFLY THE HEADQUARTERS OF MOMENT ALI AT A BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME AS WELL.

THERE IS A LOT OF HIMSELF TRY THERE AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO OPEN A FILM LIKE THIS UP TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MOST EFFECTIVE, TO THE COMMUNITY AND HARLEM COULD NOT BE A BETTER PLACE TO DO THE NEW YORK CITY PREMIER.

YOU KNOW, I DON'T WANT TO -- CERTAINLY DON'T WANT TO GIVE AWAY ANY SPOILERS, AND I DON'T WANT TO, PERHAPS, HIGHLIGHT DRAMA.

BUT THERE WAS DRAMA THAT DID DEVELOP BETWEEN THE TWO.

YES.

SO, I GUESS, MARCUS, WHAT I WANT TO GET FROM YOU IS WHAT WAS IT THAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT HOW THE RELATIONSHIP EVENTUALLY DETERIORATED.

AGAIN, WITHOUT GIVING AWAY ANY SPOILERS, WAS THERE SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED YOU AND THAT MIGHT BE A LESSON TO TAKE INTO OUR CURRENT MOMENT?

WELL, I THINK THAT WHEN PEOPLE LOOK AT THIS STORY, YOU KNOW, I HAVE SPOKEN TO SOME FOLKS ABOUT IT AND SOME PEOPLE HAVE SAID, I KNOW HOW THIS STORY ENDS, MALCOLM X IS ASSASSINATED.

THAT'S NOT EXACTLY HOW THE STORY ENDS.

THAT HAPPENED.

BUT THAT'S NOT THE END OF THE STORY IN TERMS OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP AND WHAT COMES KIND OF IN THE YEARS AFTER HIS ASSASSINATION.

I THINK FOR ME, ONE OF THE THINGS WE HAVE TO REMEMBER THAT WE CAN TAKE FROM THE PAST AND APPLY IT TO TODAY IS MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI WERE BOTH UNDER INTENSE PRESSURES, SOCIETAL PRESSURES, PRESSURES WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION THAT THEY WERE A PART OF.

BUT THEY HAD A BOND THAT WAS REAL, AND THEY HAD A RELATIONSHIP IN WHICH THEY BOTH REFERRED TO EACH OTHER PUBLICALLY AS BROTHERS.

AND, SO, EVEN THROUGHOUT THE RESEARCH, THERE WAS -- YOU KNOW, THERE IS DRAMA AND THERE IS FALL-OUT.

BUT IF YOU REALLY LOOK AT IT, BETWEEN MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI, THERE IS NO REAL CATALYST BETWEEN THE TWO MEN THAT CAUSES THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO FISSION.

IT IS REALLY THESE OUTSIDE FORCES THAT INTERRUPTED THIS BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIP THAT WAS COMING TOGETHER.

AND I THINK WHEN YOU THINK OF MALCOLM X'S LIFE AND HIM BEING ASSASSINATED AT 39, WHICH IS INCREDIBLY YOUNG, YOU CAN'T HELP BUT SAY WHERE WOULD WE BE TODAY IF HE WASN'T ASSASSINATED?

WHERE WOULD WE BE TODAY IF HE WAS ABLE TO LIVE A WHOLE LIFE?

MOHAMED ALI WENT ON AND LIVED A WHOLE OTHER LIFETIME WHERE HE WAS ABLE TO HAVE OTHER DEEDS, ACTION AND HUMANITARIAN THINGS OCCUR, AND THAT REALLY CEMENTED HIS LEGACY AND I THINK STARTED TO GET MORE NOTORIETY EVEN UP TO THE '96 OLYMPICS.

SO I THINK WE HAVE TO AS A PEOPLE REMEMBER WHEN WE'RE DEALING WITH THESE INTENSE OUTSIDE FORCES, THAT COULD BE OPPRESSION, POLICE BRUTALITY, BEING PROFILED, THAT WE HAVE TO ZOOM OUT.

IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO ZOOM OUT BECAUSE I THINK THERE IS A BIGGER MISSION AT HAND WHEN YOU HAVE THIS MUCH INFLUENCE AND THIS MUCH INSPIRATION FOR PEOPLE.

THERE IS A GREATER MISSION THAT WE NEED TO BE FOCUSSED ON.

AND IF WE COULD JUST ZOOM OUT AND PUT SOME OF OUR DIVISIONS AND SOME OF THE THINGS THAT SEPARATE US AND ARE NOT IMPORTANT TO THE SIDE, I THINK WHAT WE CAN ACHIEVE IS LIMITLESS.

AND I THINK PEOPLE NEED TO REMEMBER THAT.

AS WE SAW WITH THE GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS AND EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR GUIDANCE.

PEOPLE WERE LOOKING FOR FIGURES AND LOOKING FOR HOW DO WE MANAGE THIS CRISIS?

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS?

WHAT SHOULD OUR RESPONSE BE?

I THINK THAT LED A LOT OF PEOPLE TO GO TO MALCOLM X'S SPEECHES AND WORKS AND AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND REALLY TRY TO GLEAM WHAT TO DO NEXT.

MALCOLM X IS VERY MUCH IN THE SCYTHE GOOIS OF EVERYBODY RIGHT NOW ESPECIALLY AFTER THE PROTESTS THAT WERE GOING ON.

SO I THINK THOSE VOICES, THAT IDEA OF HIM AND WHAT HE STOOD FOR, EVEN THOUGH HE'S BEEN ASSASSINATED HAS NEVER BEEN LOST.

HIS LEGACY CONTINUES TO LIVE.

OF COURSE.

AGAIN, WE TALK ABOUT HOW THERE ARE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN OUR PRESENT MOMENT WITH OUR RACIAL RECKONING THAT'S HAPPENING NOW AND OF COURSE THE 1960s.

THERE IS ALSO THE, I GUESS, OTHER EXISTENTIAL THREAT, AND THAT IS OF THE PANDEMIC.

I WANT TO GET FROM YOU, DAN, HOW DO YOU -- HOW DID YOU SEE, HOW DO YOU SEE THE PANDEMIC AFFECTING THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

THAT'S SUCH A BIG DRIVER, ESPECIALLY FOR A CITY LIKE NEW YORK.

AND IT TOOK A MASSIVE HIT.

YEAH, ABSOLUTELY.

YOU KNOW, IT IS -- YOU KNOW, AS I MENTIONED ROOFTOP FILMS WAS ABLE TO CONTINUE.

WE ACTUALLY DID MORE SCREENINGS LAST YEAR THAN WE HAVE EVER DONE BEFORE.

BUT THE REASON FOR THAT IS BECAUSE WE SPECIALIZE IN SHOWING EVENTS OUTDOORS, SO WE WERE ABLE TO DO THINGS IN A WAY THAT WAS SAFE AND THAT PEOPLE FELT COMFORTABLE WITH AND THAT WAS FULLY IN ACCORDANCE WITH ALL THE RULES AND REGULATIONS IN THE CITY, WHICH I THINK WERE VERY FAIRLY PUT IN PLACE WITH, I THINK, YOU KNOW, A LOT OF CAREFUL THOUGHT AND JUDGMENT ON THE PART OF THE CITY AND THE STATE ALONG THE WAY.

SO, BUT, YEAH, THE VAST MAJORITY OF NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS AND VARIOUS OTHER EXHIBITORS WHERE THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT BROADWAY OR THE MOVIE THEATERS INDEPENDENCE ACROSS NEW YORK OR THE COUNTRY WERE REALLY DEVASTATED.

I THINK THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF SUPPORT THAT HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY, YOU KNOW, VARIOUS GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES TO SUPPORT SOME OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS TO HELP KEEP THEM FROM GOING UNDER, WHICH I THINK -- LUCKILY I THINK THAT THE GOVERNMENT, YOU KNOW, NATIONALLY AND LOCALLY RESPONDED IN MY OPINION SURPRISINGLY WELL TO HELPING TO PROVIDE A LIFELINE FOR A LOT OF THESE ORGANIZATIONS.

BUT IT WAS JUST A LIFELINE.

YOU KNOW, EVEN IN THAT, THOUGH, THEY MIGHT HAVE PERFORMED BETTER THAN I MIGHT HAVE FEARED.

THEY WEREN'T ABLE TO MAKE UP FOR EVERYTHING.

AND SO, YOU KNOW, THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF OPTIMISM OR THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF OPTIMISM EARLIER THIS YEAR THAT THINGS COULD GET CLOSER TO NORMAL.

LUCKILY MOST OF THE ORGANIZATIONS IN NEW YORK CITY HAVE AT LEAST SURVIVED TO THIS POINT.

I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE DELTA VARIANT AND THE OTHER VARIOUS CHALLENGES WE'RE FACING NOW I THINK ARE PRESENTING A NEW CHALLENGE THAT WASN'T ANTICIPATED.

I AM -- THE ONE THING THAT I THINK IS VERY ENCOURAGING FOR THIS PROCESS IS IN ADDITION TO SUPPORT FROM WONDERFUL PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT, I HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY THE CREATIVITY AND MIND SET OF DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS, ESPECIALLY NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS HAVE SHOWN THROUGH THIS.

ONE OF THE GREAT SHINING LIGHTS THROUGH THIS DARK PERIOD FOR ROOFTOP FILMS IS THAT WE WERE ABLE TO COLLABORATE WITH DIFFERENT ENTITIES TO DO THESE THINGS.

I HOPE THIS WILL LAST BEYOND THIS PARTICULAR CRISIS THAT WE'RE UNFORTUNATELY STILL GOING THROUGH.

WE PARTNERED WITH THE CITY AS MENTIONED TO GET THIS TOGETHER.

WE'RE PARTNERING WITH THE CITY MORE.

WE WORKED WITH MUSEUM OF THE MOVING IMAGE, THE NEW YORK HALL OF SCIENCE, FILM AT LINCOLN CENTER AND SO MANY OTHER ENTITIES TO HELP KEEP THESE EVENTS GOING.

THAT'S BEEN REALLY INSPIRING.

I HOPE A LOT OF THAT WILL CONTINUE.

MARCUS' FILM IS VERY MUCH BRINGS TO LIGHT HOW ESSENTIAL IT IS IN TIMES OF CRISIS FOR PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES AND DIFFERENT NEEDS COMING TOGETHER AND WORKING TOGETHER FOR THE GREATER GOOD.

I THINK WE HAVE SEEN A LOT OF THAT IN THIS TIME.

THIS YEAR YOU CAN TESTIFY TO THAT, TO THE NEED FOR THAT COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT AND A CHARITABLE MINDEDNESS THROUGH THESE CRISES.

SO I HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY THAT.

THAT BEING SAID, WE'RE NOT OUT OF THIS YET.

I THINK THERE IS NO WAY WE WERE GOING TO EMERGE FROM THIS UNCHANGED.

AND MY HOPE IS SOME OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE COME THROUGH THIS WILL HELP US TO GET THROUGH THE REMAINDER OF THIS CRISIS AND KEEP THESE ORGANIZATIONS ALIVE SO THAT WE CAN HOPEFULLY CONTINUE TO REFORM ALL THE THINGS THAT WE'RE DOING AND CREATE A FILM IN A CULTURAL WORLD THAT IS, YOU KNOW, NOT JUST SUSTAINED AND RETURNING TO WHAT WE WERE BEFORE BUT I HOPE THERE ARE LESSONS LEARNED ALONG THE WAY AND WE COULD MAKE IT A MORE EQUITABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR, YOU KNOW, ON ALL LEVELS OF THE CREATIVE WORLD BUT ALSO IN TERMS OF EXHIBITION, THINGS LIKE THE CITY BRINGING THIS EVENT TO THE BRONX AND TO HARLEM AND TO QUEENS AND STATEN ISLAND AND LOCATIONS THAT MIGHT NOT SOMETIMES BE THE CENTER OF THE CULTURAL WORLD.

I HOPE THAT DOESN'T GO AWAY AND PEOPLE RECOGNIZE THESE ARE THINGS NEEDED IN TERMS OF CRISIS BUT THAT ALSO THESE ARE EFFORTS THAT SHOULD BE MADE IN TIMES OF -- THAT ARE A LITTLE MORE RELEVANT TO US AS WELL.

MARCUS, I WOULD LOVE TO FIND OUT HOW, AS AN ARTIST, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT THAT YOUR FILM IS GOING TO BE SCREENED WITH AN AUDIENCE.

ALBEIT OUTSIDE, BUT SO MUCH OF WHAT WE HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCING THROUGH THIS PANDEMIC HAS BEEN WITH FEW CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY, WHOEVER IS IN OUR PANDEMIC POD STREAMING AT HOME.

THERE IS SOMETHING TO BE SAID FOR GATHERING WITH OTHER PEOPLE AND EXPERIENCING A PIECE OF ART LIVE.

ABSOLUTELY.

I MEAN, I THINK THAT THAT'S ONE OF THE THINGS I'M PROBABLY MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO OUT OF THIS PREMIER.

LUCKILY, 2019 WE STARTED FILMING.

WE FINISHED PRINCIPAL PHOTOGRAPHY IN FEBRUARY OF 2020.

SO AT THE END OF FEBRUARY 2020.

SO REALLY BY THE TIME WE FINISHED ALL THE INTERVIEWS, THE WORLD WAS LOCKING IN MARCH.

SO THE ENTIRE POST PRODUCTION PROCESS HAPPENED FOR US DURING LOCKDOWN.

WE HAD TO REENVISION HOW WE DO POST, HOW WE DO EDITING, HOW TO WORK WITH FAITH, RELIGION, RACE AND ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT COMPLEX ISSUES.

HOW DO WE DO THAT REMOTELY AND FROM AFAR.

WE HAD TO REIMAGINE THE EDITING PROCESS A LOT.

DO REAL-TIME EDITING WITH AN EDITOR BUT WE'RE ALL IN DIFFERENT LOCATIONS.

THE PRODUCER, EVERYBODY WAS INVOLVED.

SO THERE WAS A BACKDROP WITH THE WORLD ERUPTING.

SO MYSELF AND MY TEAM, WE HAVE BEEN WORKING SILOED IN ISOLATION FOR OVER A YEAR IN POST.

SO TO BE ABLE TO SHARE THIS FILM FINALLY WITH AN AUDIENCE I THINK WILL BE AN INCREDIBLY UNIQUE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL OF US AND EVERYONE INVOLVED.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT BECAUSE GETTING THAT AUDIENCE REACTION AND RESPONSE AND FEELING THE ENGAGEMENT AND FEELING MOMENTS WHERE PEOPLE WEREN'T LAUGHING AT THINGS THAT ARE FUNNY AND OOHING AND AHING AT THINGS YOU DIDN'T EXPECT, THOSE ARE THINGS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO WATCHING WITH AN AUDIENCE.

AS A FILM MAKER, PART OF THE REASON I GOT INTO THIS WAS TO MAKE FILMS ON SCREEN IN A THEATER.

WHEN I STARTED, THERE WAS NO THOUGHT OF THIS IS GOING TO BE STREAMING.

THAT'S BEEN A SIGNIFICANT SHIFT IN THE PROCESS.

AND JUST KNOWING WHERE FILMS WILL LAND.

I FEEL REALLY FORTUNATE WE WERE ABLE TO FIT INTO THIS WINDOW WITH ROOFTOP SCREENINGS AND TO BE ABLE TO ACTUALLY HAVE A REAL AUDIENCE FOR THIS PREMIER IS INCREDIBLE.

AND I HOPE IT GIVES PEOPLE, YOU KNOW, A SENSE OF INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION AS WELL THAT THERE ARE ARTISTS WORKING THROUGH THESE DIFFICULT CHALLENGING TIMES AGAINST THE BACKDROP OF THE COUNTRY DEALING WITH THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL UNREST.

IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR ARTISTS LIKE MYSELF AND ALL OTHER FILM MAKERS TO STAY COMMITTED BECAUSE AT THESE TIMES WE NEED WORKS OF ART, WE NEED FILMS AND THOUGHT PROVOKING MOMENTS TO KEEP US GROUNDED AND GIVE US INSIGHTS ON HOW WE CAN HANDLE THINGS IN THE FUTURE.

OF COURSE.

HERE WE ARE.

WE'RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, WHICH ALWAYS KILLS ME.

BUT QUICKLY, MARCUS, WITH I GUESS 45 SECONDS LEFT, DO YOU THINK THAT GIVEN, NOT ONLY WITH THE PANDEMIC, BUT ALSO THE RACIAL RECKONING THAT THIS COUNTRY IS STILL COMING TO GRIPS WITH THAT THERE IS MORE EQUITY IN FILM MAKING AND THE WAY FILMS ARE BEING RE-LIT AND ACTUALLY PRODUCED AND WHO GETS TO TELL STORIES, DO YOU SEE THAT CHANGING?

YES.

I SEE IT CHANGING.

AND I THINK ACTUALLY FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR IN THE FILM MAKING WORLD AND THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY, I THINK WE HAVE A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO SEIZE THIS MOMENT AND TO PUSH FORWARD, YOU KNOW, WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO TELL OUR STORIES, TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO TELL OUR STORIES.

THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS THAT I'M SO HONORED AND SO HUMBLED TO BE IN THIS POSITION.

I REALIZE HOW RARE THIS POSITION IS, TO BE AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN DIRECTOR, TO BE IN A POSITION OF TELLING THIS STORY IS INCREDIBLY SPECIAL TO ME AND TO EVERYONE.

I THINK IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT FOR US TO BE ABLE TO TELL OUR STORIES TO GET TO THAT LEVEL OF AUTHENTICITY.

I THINK WHEN YOU LOOK AT MALCOLM X AND MOHAMED ALI, THERE IS NO WAY TO UNDERSTAND THESE MEN WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IT IS TO BE A BLACK MAN IN AMERICA AT THAT TIME.

IF YOU ARE OVERLOOKING THAT IN ANY WAY, YOU ARE MISSING WHAT MAKES MALCOLM X MALCOLM X AND WHAT MADE MOHAMED ALI MOHAMED ALI.

I THINK OUR FILM AS A DEEP SENSE OF SOUL AND EMOTION, AND I THINK THAT'S SOMETHING IN THE PAST HAS BEEN LEFT OUT WHERE THESE DOCUMENTS HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT AND CLINICAL.

I THINK WE HAVE A SPECIAL FILM HERE THAT BENEFITS FROM THE AMOUNT OF JUST AFRICAN-AMERICAN FILM MAKERS WORKING.

MY PRODUCER IS AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

OH, OF COURSE.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A BLACK ILLUSTRATOR DOING ANIMATIONS.

WE HAVE A VERY DIVERSE MAKEUP IN OUR CREW, AND I THINK THAT HELPS US GET TO THE CORE AND PRESENT A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON OUR STORY.

WE HAVE TO LEAVE IT THERE.

BUT I CANNOT RECOMMEND THE FILM ENOUGH.

IF YOU GET A CHANCE, PLEASE GO SEE IT AS PART OF NEW YORK CITY'S HOMECOMING WEEK CELEBRATION.

I'D LIKE TO THANK BOTH OF MY GUESTS, THE DIRECTOR OF 'BLOOD BROTHERS.'

THANK YOU BOTH SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON 'METROFOCUS'.

PLEASURE TO BE HERE.

ABSOLUTELY.

I REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

OF COURSE.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III.

SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER.

JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD.

CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY.

JUDY AND JOSH WESTON.

DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION.

©2021 WNET. All Rights Reserved. 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019

WNET is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Tax ID: 26-2810489