During the 1960s and 1970s, Madeline Anderson broke racial and gender barrier in nonfiction filmmaking through her work as a director, producer and editor. This DVD gathering of three of her short documentaries offers a fascinating consideration of how Anderson used her medium to spotlight the tumultuous fights for civil and women’s rights.
The 1960 “Integration Report 1” provides a troubling consideration of the challenges that faced African Americans in both the Jim Crow South (particularly with the lunch counter sit-ins) and in supposedly liberal New York City (where white parents pulled their children from a Queens school that was integrated with black children from neighboring Brooklyn. “A Tribute to Malcolm X” (1967) offers a cogent (if too brief) overview of the provocative civil rights leader’s views on race relations, including his explanation of his controversial remarks following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, along with an interview with his widow Betty Shabazz.
The 1970 “I Am Somebody” is Anderson’s finest work, an invigorating study of the African American women hospital workers in Charleston, S.C., who went on strike for wages above the $1.30 per hour they were earning. This work offers remarkable insight on how the strike was organized, along with the uncomfortable reactions from white politicians as the walkout becomes a national issue.
Also included on this DVD release is an interview with Anderson, who provides a charismatic consideration of her pioneering filmmaking career.