Two English-language European film projects aim to bring leading figures from the Black Power movement of the 1960s to the big screen soon. Franco-Algerian producer-writer-director Rachid Bouchareb, whose film “London River” screens in competition at the current Berlin International Film Festival, is setting up a movie on the early life of Angela Davis, a leading figure of the civil rights movement and one-time FBI renegade. Meanwhile, Berlin-based Egoli Tossell Film, whose latest picture, “Hilde,” screens as a Berlinale Special Gala, is in preproduction on a feature based on the life story of Black Panther co-founder Bobby Seale. Davis, who once studied at Berlin’s Humboldt University, became a cause celebre in the ’60s when she was sacked from her post as philosophy professor at UCLA for being a Communist.
She later found herself on the FBI’s most-wanted list after guns used in a fatal courtroom breakout were traced to her. She was eventually acquitted by an all-white jury after one of the most high-profile trials in postwar America.
Bouchareb, working from a script by novelist Yasmina Khadra, has his lead actress firmly in mind: “I want Beyonce Knowles to play Angela Davis,” he said.
The Egoli Tossell production, “A Lonely Rage,” is based on Seale’s autobiography tracing his life from his beginnings as a Texas farm boy to the head of the radical protest group. Alongside Panther co-founder Huey Newton, Seale adopted the radical stance of “freedom by any means” and faced trial on charges of inciting riots and murder. The charges were eventually dropped, and he is now better known for his best-selling barbecue cookbooks.