'Attica' Prison Revolt Doc in the Works at Showtime

Stanley Nelson - Publicity - P 2018
Courtesy of WME

'The Black Panthers' director Stanley Nelson will chronicle the deadly 1971 prisoner rebellion in upstate New York.

Showtime Documentary Films on Monday unveiled plans for the feature documentary Attica, about the 1971 prison rebellion in upstate New York, by director Stanley Nelson (The Murder of Emmett Till).

The movie will debut on Showtime in 2021, the 50th anniversary of the five-day confrontation between prisoners and guards called a riot by some and a rebellion by others. The uprising inspired Al Pacino's famous chant of "Attica! Attica!" in Dog Day Afternoon.

Nelson's documentary will chronicle the five-day event that turned deadly when armed state troopers stormed the prison facility, leaving 43 people dead and hundreds injured. "Attica is a film I've been itching to make for a very long time. It's a dramatic story, with so many great voices that have not been heard. The uprising and its aftermath shaped the present in ways I think will be surprising to an audience,” said Nelson in a statement on Monday.

The veteran director's other films, including Freedom Summer, Freedom Riders and The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, have chronicled the African American experience,

“Few single words in our nation’s history conjure more powerful emotions than Attica, especially at the intersection of race and our prison system. And no filmmaker is better suited to make sense of those five days in America’s history than Stanley Nelson. We are honored and excited to be working with a filmmaker of Stanley’s caliber on telling a story that’s just as relevant fifty years later," Vinnie Malhotra, executive vp of nonfiction programming at Showtime Networks, added in his own statement.

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, will be the lead historical consultant on the project.

Attica is produced by Nelson’s Firelight Films and Topic Studios for Showtime Documentary Films.