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Madeline Anderson: To the Front Lines

MUBI Special

Madeleine Anderson is a trailblazing filmmaker and artist, recognized as being the first African American woman to direct a documentary. The three films in this series, made between 1960 and 1970, document Black people in their struggle for equality, becoming indispensable historical records and fundamental pieces of political documentary filmmaking in the process. Integration Report 1 is a snapshot of the civil rights movement—tracking speeches, sit-ins, and protests all over the country in the late 50s, and including a song by Maya Angelou—that captures its bubbling energy and scope. Featuring footage shot by the Maysles brothers and Richard Leacock, it is a milestone in the beginnings of Direct Cinema, a genre of documentary initiated by the development of portable cameras and synchronous sound that attempts to capture reality as it unfolds. Tribute to Malcolm X, made for William Greaves’ television program Black Journal on occasion of the fourth anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination, is an essential portrait of one of the leading figures in the civil rights movement and a rare collaboration with Malcolm X’s widow, Betty Shabazz. I Am Somebody documents the struggle of Black hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina fighting for workers’ rights, and is a perfect example of the tenacity and vitality of both the labor movement and Anderson’s filmmaking. Recently preserved by Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, all three films are compassionate records of activism, capturing the intersections of race, class, and gender.

Integration Report 1

Madeline Anderson United States, 1960

Starting our Madeline Anderson series is her essential debut film, a vital snapshot of the civil rights movement. Capturing the bubbling energy of the late 50s by tracking various forms of activism, the film is a great historical record and one of the pioneering political films of Direct Cinema.

Tribute to Malcolm X

Madeline Anderson United States, 1967

Commissioned by William Greaves’ television program Black Journal, this film from pioneering director Madeline Anderson is a eulogy to Malcolm X. Featuring a rare interview with his widow, Betty Shabazz, the film combines archival footage and images of his funeral to form an essential portrait.

I Am Somebody

Madeline Anderson United States, 1969

A perfect document of the intersections between race, class, and gender, I Am Somebody is Madeline’s Anderson’s exemplary film. Featuring Coretta Scott King amongst Black female hospital workers in their labor struggle, Anderson’s kinship with her subjects is felt in every frame.

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