By Matthew Carey
Documentary Editor, Awards
EXCLUSIVE: Greenwich Entertainment has acquired domestic theatrical rights to Participant’s civil rights documentary Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power.
Greenwich plans a December 2 release of the film directed by Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir, which earlier this week earned a Critics Choice Documentary Awards nomination as Best Historical Documentary. As Deadline previously reported, Peacock acquired U.S. streaming rights to the film in June.
Vienna-based Autlook Filmsales will handle international film sales for the title at IDFA (International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam) next month and upcoming markets and festivals. Lowndes County premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June and screened last month at the Camden International Film Festival in Maine.
“The passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 represented not the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement, but the beginning of a new, crucial chapter,” a description of the film notes. “Nowhere was this next battle better epitomized than in Lowndes County, Alabama, a rural, impoverished county with a vicious history of racist terrorism.”
The synopsis continues, “In a county that was 80 percent Black but had zero Black voters, laws were just paper without power. This isn’t a story of hope but of action. Through first-person accounts and searing archival footage, Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power tells the story of the local movement and young Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizers who fought not just for voting rights, but for Black Power in Lowndes County.”
Tribeca First Look: ‘Lowndes County And The Road To Black Power’ Uncovers “Crucial Chapter” In Civil Rights Movement
Though historical in nature, the film speaks directly to today. The GOP, stunned by Joe Biden’s win in historically-red Georgia and Arizona in the 2020 presidential race, has redoubled its efforts to suppress voter turnout among minorities likely to favor Democrats in the November midterm election.
“Heroism and villainy abound in this stirring, telling and highly detailed account of what state-sanctioned, systematic, racist voter suppression looked like then, and the courage and discipline it took to challenge and ultimately defeat,” Greenwich co-president Edward Arentz said in a statement. “Geeta and Sam’s dramatic recreation of those times is an implicit call to action to identify and resist the malice of today’s disenfranchisers.”
Participant’s CEO David Linde commented, “This incredibly impactful piece of art, history, and civil rights is as relevant now as ever in light of the ongoing assault on the right to vote. The restoration and preservation of narrative has never been more important, and we are thrilled to partner with Peacock, Greenwich and Autlook, which will amplify this story, brought to life by such extraordinary filmmakers, to a deservingly wide audience on the big screen.”
In a statement, Gandbhir and Pollard said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Greenwich Entertainment and Autlook. Both companies have a history of unique, groundbreaking and award-winning documentary films, making them the perfect fit for Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power. We are excited about all the opportunities these partnerships will create for our film.”
Participant represented the sale of the documentary to Greenwich Entertainment and Autlook, with Participant’s Liesl Copland, EVP content strategy & sales, Adam Macy, senior counsel, business & legal affairs, and Rob Williams, SVP, content strategy & sales, spearheading negotiations. Greenwich’s Arentz represented the distributor, and Salma Abdalla handled on behalf of Autlook.
Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power is presented by Participant and is a Multitude Films production, in association with The Atlantic. The documentary is directed by Sam Pollard and Geeta Gandbhir, and produced by Anya Rous and Jessica Devaney via the Multitude Films banner, and by Dema Paxton Fofang. Executive producers are Jeff Skoll and the late Diane Weyermann on behalf of Participant; Fred Grinstein; and Linzee Troubh on behalf of The Atlantic. The film was inspired by Vann R. Newkirk II’s research and writing, as published in The Atlantic. He also served as consulting producer on the film.
Pollard’s directing credits include MLK/FBI, Mr. SOUL! (co-directed by Melissa Haizlip), Citizen Ashe (co-directed with Rex Miller), and the upcoming Bill Russell: Legend, about the late NBA great. He earned a 1998 Academy Award nomination for producing 4 Little Girls, directed by Spike Lee.
Gandbhir’s directing credits include Call Center Blues, I Am Evidence (co-directed with Trish Adlesic), and Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. (co-directed with Perri Peltz). She and Pollard have won two Primetime Emmys for editing the documentaries By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (co-edited with Arielle Amsalem), and When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (co-edited with Nancy Novack).
Participant’s upcoming feature releases include Descendant, which premieres today on Netflix; All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (NEON, HBO Documentary Films), winner of the Venice Golden Lion for Best Film; Shirley (Netflix); BLKNWS (A24); Out of My Mind (Disney+), and White Bird: A Wonder Story (Lionsgate). Recent releases include Costa Brava, Lebanon; The First Wave, and the history-making triple Academy Award nominee Flee.
Recent releases from Greenwich Entertainment include ¡Viva Maestro!, the portrait of superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel, directed by Ted Braun; Clio Barnard’s BAFTA-nominated Ali & Ava,and the Sundance award-winning documentary President. Greenwich released The Rescue and Hockeyland in 2021, and the Oscar-winning megahit Free Solo in 2018.
Autlook Filmsales is one of the leading sales agents for feature documentaries, hybrids and doc series. Their current slate includes Innocence by Oscar nominee Guy Davidi; Three Minutes – A Lengthening by Bianca Stigter; Belushi by R.J. Cutler; the 2022 Academy Award-nominated documentary Writing With Fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, and 2020 Oscar-nominated doc For Sama by Waad Al-Kataeb and Edward Watts.
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