Specifically, it begins “MLK / FBI” with a clip of Ronald Reagan featuring a television program with the warning that “In mainstream cinematic history the bad guys are defeated, the end is happy. I cannot make such a promise for the photo you are about to view. The story is not over yet.
How familiar were you with the extent of FBI surveillance on Dr. King, and what new information did you learn that prompted you to create “MLK / FBI”?
I did not know the depth of the surveillance. My producer, Benjamin Hedin, read The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Garrow. We had worked together on “Two Trains Runnin ‘” before, and he said, “I think I found our next movie.” I happen to know Garrow because he was a major consultant on “Eyes on the Prize”. I read the book and said, “You’re right, this is our next movie.”
Have you consulted with the King family or asked for their blessing, as the documentary deals with his personal life and extramarital affairs.
We knew in the past that the King family were very determined to keep the image of Dr. King alive, so I thought we should stay away from them, knowing full well that when the movie came out we would hear. talk about them or the King Estate. . But there was no peep.
A key question posed in the film is the responsibility of historians. What responsibilities did you feel as a filmmaker when presenting this story?
I feel that my responsibility is to look at the subject in a nuanced way, the flaws and all. I used to want to look at Dr King in a way: he was the great leader of the civil rights movement, he took us from a world of segregation to a world of integration, he had this speech phenomenal “I have a dream” he was there when the Voting Rights Law and Civil Rights Law were passed. He was on the front line all the time. But I also wanted to shape the narrative to show that he was also a human being. He took care of many things like many of us. He was constantly watched by the FBI, he knew (at any time) he could be shot and murdered, he was probably stunned to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, a man who in 1967 said he was very convinced that we shouldn’t be in Vietnam, knowing full well the hindsight he would get from Lyndon Johnson, who had been a big supporter of his. So you see him in our movie in times when he looks tired and bulky. It was because he had a lot of things on his mind, besides managing his own personal life, which was very complicated.