Cinema Politique: Boycott

Cinema Politique aims to introduce and discuss international and national political developments on the basis of movies and documentaries.

The February 2018 selection is the Peabody Award-winning 2001 movie Boycott. Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King and Ralph Abernathy were still in their twenties in 1955 at the start of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. HBO Films brings to life in a stylish and unconventional manner the story of how a single act of defiance united a community, ignited a movement and gave voice to a new leader.

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat in a 'whites only' section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Using Parks' courageous act as a rallying cry, charismatic young minister King and Abernathy joined other black leaders in an organized boycott of the city's public buses. What began as a one-day protest soon escalated into something beyond all expectations. The boycott ultimately ended in triumph after 381 days, and galvanized the Civil Rights movement.

In order to present a fresh and daring approach to this pivotal movement in America's history, the filmmakers integrated a variety of cinematic formats, including real and re-created documentary footage, simulated home movies and traditional narrative. Boycott provides unique access to the public and private struggles of those who were destined to change history.

Starring Jeffrey Wright as Martin Luther King, Jr., Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King, Terrence Howard as Ralph Abernathy, and Iris Little-Thomas as Rosa Parks, Boycott returns to events that should by now be among the most famous and familiar accounts of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the United States. But in this retelling we go behind and beyond the public record. In Boycott we explore the personal emotions, the domestic struggles, and the unknown conflicts that precede and undergird courage. We explore the consequences of moral choices. And we are reminded that these and similar choices must still be confronted one by one, by individuals and by society, if we are all to live free at last.

Introducing the program and leading the discussion will be Freda Scott Giles, emerita professor of theatre and the Institute for African American Studies. Giles and her late husband Leroy Giles both appear in the movie.

Room 250, Miller Learning Center.