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American Black Film Festival 2022 Opens With Netflix ‘Civil’ Document

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump attracted the attention of the audience at the New World Center in Miami Beach at the opening of the 2022 American Black Film Festival on Wednesday. June 15, where he took the stage to present “Civilian”, an upcoming Netflix documentary about his life and work.

“People always ask me: “Why did I do this?” Crump said. “I said, I understand, we always have to fight in two courts when we fight for the life, dignity and humanity of black people: the court and the court of public opinion.”

Speaking to a crowd of filmmakers, cinephiles and some personal friends, Crump stated that the documentary would not have been possible without Kenya Barriswho knows how to portray Black’s experience on film.

“Kenya created ‘Black-ish’ and wrote ‘Girls Trip’ and [created] ‘America’s Next Top Model’… We represent this experience in black America, but we may have other experiences that we think are just as important,” Crump added, stating that a prolific producer is “essential to our culture.” “.

Crump also thanked the award-winning director. Nadia Hallgren, who directed the documentary as the trio took to the stage with Netflix’s Lalani Smith and ABFF Ventures president Nicole Friday as part of the ABFF launch. (Roger Ross Williams and Lauren Choffee also produced the film).

Debuting June 19 on Netflix, “Civilian” follows Crump’s work as the killings of unarmed blacks like Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin and George Floyd devastated people of color in the United States and around the world. The documentary features behind-the-scenes footage of the lawyer handling these cases, allowing viewers to witness his turbulent year as he travels to represent distraught families and give them advice on how to get their loved one’s story told.

“Civil” follows my life for one year, in what we consider to be the most important call to action in civil rights history,” Crump said. Diversity on the red carpet before the show. “One of the things about Citizen that I’m so grateful to Nadia for is that hopefully everyone around the world will see the black experience and our mission to add value to black lives.”

Crump believes the documentary’s message is now more important than ever.

“We have to be polite to each other. We must choose tolerance instead of replacing the race or vigilante mentality,” he said. “We must choose humanity over white supremacy. And most importantly, we must fight for love, not hate.”

Barris also noted the importance of having a “Civilian” screen as part of the ABFF lineup. “Ben was our supporter and Jeff and Nicole were our supporters and the combination of those things and the people who come after each other is what we do and how we continue to progress. Being part of this tradition means everything to me,” he explained.

As the documentary traveled through festival circles, Barris says several takeaways came to the fore as he spoke to viewers and fellow industry veterans.

“It’s not about the money or the lawsuits; it’s about humanity, it’s about the idea that our humanity wasn’t always perceived the way we wanted it to be,” Barris said. “I think we need advocates to make sure people see and hear us and understand that we are just as human as anyone else.”

On stage, Hallgren explained how she became the director of a documentary shortly after the debut of her latest Netflix project, Becoming, which featured First Lady Michelle Obama.

“Kenya called me to ask if I was interested in making a film about Ben Crump and everything I asked came true. We quickly grabbed our cameras and hit the road with Prosecutor Krump,” Hallgren shared.

“Civilian” opens with an emotional scene when Crump receives a phone call about the death of George Floyd. Viewers also got a glimpse into Crump’s personal life as the film includes footage of the lawyer at the start of his career, his college days at Florida State University, and how his work affects his family life due to his frequent travels. The audience cheered and cheered along with footage of Crump’s successes, while the film also shows the strain he feels in dealing with so many cases of injustice.

“They are all significant. All of them matter. I try to fight each of them so that we can achieve the best possible result in the civil arena, ”Krump said. Diversityexplaining why he keeps moving forward.

“Only the police can arrest people, and only the prosecutor’s office can put them in jail,” he said. “However, as private lawyers, we can fight under the United States Seventh Amendment to get the strongest verdict or the largest possible settlement. We will continue to add value to black lives to the point where it is financially unprofitable for them to kill black people.”

[Pictured: ‘Civil’ producer Kenya Barris, director Nadia Hallgren and attorney Ben Crump with ABFF’s Nicole and Jeff Friday.]

Additional report by Angelica Jackson

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