On Monday, Showtime Documentary Films has announced that a new feature film documentary called Attica is in the works currently. Attica will follow the five-day prison rebellion that transpired in the fall of 1971 in upstate New York and still stands as the largest and deadliest the country has ever witnessed. The Attica Prison Uprising included armed state troopers storming the prison facility, leaving 43 people dead and hundreds injured.
The official synopsis of Attica reads: “More than a simple recounting of the five days of rebellion, Attica will also offer a broader understanding of the Attica tragedy in the crosscurrents of politics, race, power and punishment during the early 1970s. Through expert voices and archival images of urban and suburban life, the film explores the tensions between a young, radicalized population of mostly Black and Latino inmates, and correctional officers from a predominately white company town, where the Attica prison was the primary employer for generations of families. Attica examines inmates’ demands for recognition of their humanity at the culmination of a moment where racial justice activists embraced prisoner rights as an extension of their fight for civil rights.”
The pic will be directed by Emmy-winning documentarian Stanley Nelson. His most recent feature Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019. He is a veteran director for his other notable films chronicling the African American experience, like Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Summer and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. Nelson is also the recipient of a Peabody Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, which is otherwise known as the “Genius Grant” for his outstanding creative pursuits.
Nelson spoke about his upcoming project, stating that “Attica is a film I’ve been itching to make for a very long time. It’s a dramatic story, with so many great voices that have not been heard. The uprising and its aftermath shaped the present in ways I think will be surprising to an audience. I’m thrilled to be partnering with Showtime on this project.”
Vinnie Malhotra, executive vice president of nonfiction programming at Showtime, added that “Few single words in our nation’s history conjure more powerful emotions than Attica, especially at the intersection of race and our prison system. And no filmmaker is better suited to make sense of those five days in America’s history than Stanley Nelson. We are honored and excited to be working with a filmmaker of Stanley’s caliber on telling a story that’s just as relevant fifty years later.”