Legendary filmmaker Stanley Nelson’s new documentary “Attica” has been nominated for the first Oscar in his three-decades-long career documenting the Black American experience. The film tells the story of the deadliest prison uprising in U.S. history, when men at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York rebelled on September 9, 1971, overpowering guards and taking over much of the prison to protest conditions, before New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called out state troopers, who opened fire and killed at least 39 men, including 10 guards.
Attica is one of the most “important American events that happened over the last 50 years,” says Nelson. He also has an upcoming film focusing on the racist origins of police and discusses the hate crimes trial of Ahmad Arbery’s murderers and the condemnation of police in New Jersey who broke up a fight by violently arresting a Black teen while allowing an older white teen to remain free. “These things are not just happening for the first time. These things are being filmed for the first time,” says Nelson.
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