Filmmaker Stanley Nelson joins WNET Up Next for a conversation with Tom Stewart about his multi-award winning career. Nelson’s latest film, Tell Them We Are Rising (www.hbcurising.com), a documentary which explores the role that historically black colleges and universities have played in American history and culture, premiered in late 2017 at the Sundance Film Festival and is now on the air as part of PBS’ Independent Lens Series. This conversation was recorded in 2016 following the release of Nelson’s acclaimed film The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. The two films are the first two chapters of a trilogy called America Revisited which will conclude with a film about the Atlantic slave trade.
Nelson’s films have often been showcased on PBS: Freedom Summer, Freedom Riders, and the Murder of Emmet Till, among others. He has been the recipient of a National Humanities Medal, Lifetime Peabody Award, Lifetime Emmy Award, and a recipient of a McArthur Foundation’s “Genius” Grant plus many other honors.
He describes his early experiences, his desire to have his own company (Firelight Films) the steps and challenges encountered in taking his work from the idea state to the finished film, and the processes that lead to commercial release as well as community engagement and multiple screenings across the country. With the growth of new avenues for a film’s release, he is “platform agnostic” and seeks to make his work widely available in theaters, online as and on broadcast. A Kickstarter campaign proved to be valuable not only as a fundraising effort, but also as a vehicle to expand the film’s community of supporters and ambassadors. Part of his work under the non-profit banner of Firelight Media serves to champion young filmmakers in their efforts to make films about underrepresented stories.
WNET Up Next is a presentation of the Design and On Air Promotion Department of WNET New York Public Media
Recorded at WNET Audio C – March 17, 2016
Audio Recording – Jon Berman
Audio Mixing – Josh Broome
Original Editing – Dylan deJongh
Host/Producer – Tom Stewart
Executive Producer – Daena McBride