By Matthew Carey
Documentary Editor, Awards
EXCLUSIVE: Greenwich Entertainment is going big on Loudmouth. The company has acquired North American rights to the documentary about the Rev. Al Sharpton, and plans a December 9 theatrical release for the film just as Oscar shortlist voting rolls around.
The film directed by Josh Alexander held its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, examining an activist, commentator and occasional political candidate who has been a major part of American life for almost 40 years.
“Sharpton has been a polarizing figure, inspiring both love and hate on local and national stages,” a release for the film stated. “Chronicling his work for social change from the streets of 1980s Brooklyn to 2020s Minneapolis, Loudmouth presents never-before-seen footage of the social justice titan on the frontlines, in the media as well as in the corridors of power, to paint an intimate and revealing portrait of a tireless warrior who has never ducked a fight in his mission to transform the status quo.”
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Alexander’s documentary credits include co-directing Prescription Thugs, producing Southern Rites and co-executive producing United Skates.
“As much as this is a film about the Reverend Al Sharpton, it’s also about the system that defined him and fought him,” Alexander said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that the smart and passionate team at Greenwich is coming on board to release the film and show critics and fans alike a side of Al Sharpton that has rarely made its way into the media narrative around him.”
The documentary, a production of The Get Lifted Film Co., Group Effort Films, Massenburg Media and Naked Edge Films, was executive produced by BRON Studios, Salmira Productions, Olive Hill Media, XRM Media, and Hot Docs Partners. Credited executive producers include John Legend, Ty Stiklorious, Austyn Biggers, all of The Get Lifted Film Co.; Aaron Gilbert, Brenda Gilbert, Josh Miller, Jason Cloth, Salman al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Tim Lee, Michael Cho, Mimi Rode, Michael Y. Chow, Sue Turley, Elizabeth Radshaw, Peter Goring, Brenda Robinson, Salma Alli, Jonathan Gray, and Jim Butterworth.
Producers of the film are Daniel Chalfen, Mike Jackson, Kedar Massenburg, and Josh Alexander.
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“Greenwich is the perfect distributor for Loudmouth,” Get Lifted’s Legend and Jackson said in a statement. “They are like the Rev, bullish and strategic in their approach. They have done incredible work on so many titles and we are beyond excited to partner with them in our journey to bring Loudmouth to the masses.”
Sharpton rose to national prominence in the mid-1980s, leading protests over the acquittal on attempted murder charges of New York “subway vigilante” Bernhard Goetz, and demonstrations over a notorious 1986 incident in the Howard Beach section of Queens where a mob of white men chased three African American men – including 23-year-old Michael Griffith — onto a highway, where Griffith was killed by a passing vehicle. During that latter protest in Howard Beach, crowds of white people hurled racial slurs at Sharpton and other demonstrators – a fact that John Legend recalled as he participated in a Tribeca Q&A for Loudmouth with Sharpton and Spike Lee.
“A lot of times we look at black and white footage of those kind of epithets being thrown at us in the ‘60s, and the dogs and [white supremacist law man] Bull Connor, and all this. But this is the ‘80s!” Legend said. “This is not ancient history. A lot of us were alive during this time, and I think we are really, through watching this film, really understanding the context of what made you who you are, the fights that you chose to take on, and how courageous [you were].”
Greenwich’s Andy Bohn negotiated the acquisition with CAA Media Finance and Daniel Chalfen on behalf of the filmmakers. Greenwich distributes both documentary and narrative features; their nonfiction credits include Free Solo and The Rescue, both directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin; Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and Andrew Slater’s Echo in the Canyon.
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