(Not sure why the release date says 1999, the movie was made very recently.)
T his film played at a festival in Ohio last year, before I moved to LA, and it was one of the most moving doc**entaries I have ever seen. I\'m not usually a fan of doc**entaries because they tend, I find, to give a canned view of things, someone else\'s version of reality. But this is a pure doc**entary, with no commentary and no voiceover besides the voices of people who were there, are there.
By \'there\' I mean on the mean streets of Florida in 1964 and today. The film focuses on a series of increasingly daring noni-violent protests carried out under the leadership of Dr. King and Andrew Young in St. Augustine, which was, in the dsays before Disney and South Beach , the biggest tourist destination in the Sunshine State. These incidents are what is missing from most versions of the civil rights movement--they don\'t even get a mention in \"Eyes on the Prize.\"
The first civil rights act had been drafted under Kennedy, stalled under LBJ, and Dr. King was determined to run up the heat. And heat is what you feel in this film. You see Andrew Young kicked and beaten and not fighting back, which was the whole point of Dr. King\'s strategy.
On e of the most moving scenes, and I don\'t want to give too much away, comes when black marchers walk onto the beach, a regular Atlantic beach in Florida, but designated whites only. In a superb piece of editing, with a soundtrack that put tears in my eyes, the director takes you right into the surf with these braves black kids, girls as well as boys, as all hell pbreaks lose and white segragations (the KKK in swim suits) attack with cudgels and chains.
Anot her scene, and the center of the film in some ways, shows a protest that worked because a different kind of white folk joined in with the black folk. In fact, this is one thing that comes through so well in this film, the fact that white people were on the picket lines, were getting cattle-prodded by white law enforcement for showing solidarity with blakc protesters (I had no idea more than a dozen rabbis from New Jersey went ot Florida to march with King).
And something the film captures in a way I\'ve never seen is something Barack Obama talked about in his speech on race. Anger, on both sides. We see an old white guy who is still not going to apologize for being on the wrong side, and in a way we understand why. Then we see black kids in the same town today, living proof of the legacy of defeat that Obama talked about. They are ground down by poverty and see themselves as dirt, even at a time when African Americans as a whole are doing better than ever. If ever there was a time when a rising tide failed to lift all boats it is now. Sare Not Walk Alone is the only film I know of that faces that fact, and makes you want to do something positive about it.