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Following the success of the politically minded doc RBG, CNN Films is partnering with Trilogy Films, Color Farm Media and AGC Studios to bring a feature about Georgia Congressman John Lewis to the big screen.
Directed by Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army), the film will explore the extraordinary life of the civil rights icon and Democrat.
Porter started her year of principal photography with Rep. Lewis in September 2018 as he began an exhaustive campaign schedule for himself and others in advance of the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and continued through the first year of the historic 116th Congress. Her cameras captured a modern political thriller that unfolded as the nation lurched toward a record-setting government shutdown. The film will continue to follow the Congressman through 2019. Using interviews and archival footage, the film will chronicle Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration.
Rep. Lewis even made a surprise appearance at the 2019 Oscars, introducing the night’s best-picture winner, Green Book.
Porter uses present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, to explore his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. Lewis, whom King nicknamed “the Boy from Troy,” would go on to become one of King’s most trusted contemporaries. As the then-chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
“John Lewis is a national treasure whose leadership paved the way for a generation,” Porter said. “In much the same way as his life and work has been shaped by great civil rights leaders, Congressman Lewis continues to serve the country, introducing legislation to protect our most fundamental rights. There has never been a more urgent need for the type of moral and compassionate leadership that he embodies. I am excited to show the world how John Lewis continues to make what he calls ‘good trouble.'”
Employing a cinema verité style, the film will also include interviews with political leaders, congressional colleagues and other people who figure prominently in Lewis’ life. His speeches and achievements will be highlighted through rare and recently discovered writings, insights from Lewis and people in his inner circle as well as visual and audio archival material that illuminate his continued influence on American culture and Congress.
“CNN Films is honored to be a part of telling Rep. John Lewis’ historic life through Dawn’s film,” said Amy Entelis, executive vp talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Courtney Sexton, vp for CNN Films, in a statement. “We hope generations to come will learn from Mr. Lewis’ remarkable American story.”
Entelis and Sexton both will serve as executive producers on the film.
Porter and Laura Michalchyshyn are producing for Trilogy Films alongside actress Erika Alexander (Get Out) and Ben Arnon of Color Farm Media. The executive producers also include Stuart Ford and Rachel Traub for AGC Studios.
CNN Films has enjoyed a number of box office doc hits over the past two years including Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s RBG, Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers and Todd Douglas Miller’s Apollo 11, soon to be broadcast as a CNN Films documentary.
CNN Films will retain North American broadcast rights to the untitled Lewis doc. Other U.S. rights for the film, including theatrical distribution, remain available. AGC Studios is co-financing and controls international rights that will be sold via its worldwide sales subsidiary, AGC International.
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