New York Times - 01/19/2001
"...[A] gripping and thoughtful documentary..."
SCOTTSBORO: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY recounts a disturbing chapter in American history. In March 1931, two white women in Alabama accused nine young black men of gang-raping them aboard a freight train they had all been riding illegally. Barely escaping the lynch mob, they were put on trial and sentenced to the electric chair. The events created an avalanche of outrage and protests that spread far beyond the small Southern town. The ensuing appeals and retrials lasted years and eventually involved the Communist Party, the Supreme Court, and the entire moral character of the American South at a period when the country's social and political fabric threatened to come undone. It was a case that seemed to uncover all the fault lines in American society, such that the defendants themselves were nearly forgotten in the process.
Surprising till the end, Daniel Anker and Barak Goodman's excellent documentary reveals not just the tragic circumstances that dealt the Scottsboro Boys cruel injustice, but also the complex social forces in which every party bore some responsibility for their fate. With extensive archival material, research, and interviews, the film brings to life the many characters involved and the almost unbelievable drama of real-life events.
Civil War |
History (USA) |
Theatrical release: January 19, 2000 (NY).
During the making of the film, the producers traveled to Alabama seeking interviews with townspeople. Most refused, but one reportedly asked, "Are you jews or communists or both'"