'40 Years a Prisoner' Documentary Sets December HBO Debut (Exclusive)

40 years a prisoner
Courtesy of HBO

The movie is premiering at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

HBO Documentary Films has set a Dec. 3 debut for 40 Years a Prisoner, a feature that will be unveiled at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.

HBO will release the film on the channel as well as its platform, HBO Max.

Directed, produced and shot by Tommy Oliver, who directed film festival darling 1982, the movie couldn’t be more timely as it tackles subjects of racial tensions and police brutality. It chronicles the controversial 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE and the aftermath that led to a son’s decades long fight to free his parents. The documentary features eyewitness accounts and archival footage of the escalating tension that results in the controversial confrontation between police and MOVE members.

“I spent three years of my life making a film about the indominable will of a son to free his parents who were fighting against police brutality, systemic racism, and wrongful incarceration in the 1970s,” said Oliver in a statement. “Three years of work that I would have happily tossed away if our country was in a responsible place where things like police shootings of unarmed Black people weren’t daily occurrences and where phrases like ‘I can’t breathe’ weren’t treated as memes…but that’s not the world we  live in and as long as it’s not, it’s the role of the artist to shine as bright of a light as possible on those things. 40 Years a Prisoner is my light.”

The movie, which features original music by the Roots, was produced by Oliver and his banner, Confluential Films. Executive producing are Derek Dudley, and Shelby Stone for Freedom Road Productions, John Legend, Mike Jackson, and Ty Stiklorius for Get Lifted Film Co., and Keith Gionet and Adam Platzner for Confluential Films.