‘Attica’ Film Evaluation: Documentary Sets the Record Straight, 50 Years After the Uprising

Toronto 2021: Stanley Nelson depends on first-hand testimony to record the fact behind the still-shocking prison massacre



For “Attica”– the most current from popular documentarian Stanley Nelson (” The Black Panthers: Lead of the Transformation,” “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool”), making its world best at TIFF– the previous is at play. Analyzing the infamous prison uprising 50 years back, “Attica” does more than chronicle the occasions surrounding the events of September 1971: It likewise sets the record straight.

” Most of individuals who hear the word ‘Attica’ do not understand what it connects to, or if they have actually found out about the prison disobedience, they don’t understand why it occurred,” states Nelson, in the movie’s press notes. “They don’t know why the detainees took over the prison.”

To discuss that “why,” the three-time Emmy winner, once again teaming up with producer Traci Curry (“30 for 30: Michael Vick”), turns the story over to the people whose story it genuinely is to tell. There are no historians or other specialists, no celeb narrator, just Attica detainees, children of prison guards, reporters, lawyers, mediators, and others straight connected to the occasions covering those historical 5 days. Archival footage, a significant part of which originates from prison cams, also attests. What unfolds is a bone-chilling account of what is extensively regarded as the biggest jail rebellion in U.S. history.


On Sept. 9, 1971, unpredicted events caused the takeover of the Attica Reformatory, 250 miles northwest of New York City. Taking the moment to accentuate different infringements against their human rights, Attica detainees also took dozens of guards captive, but none of this occurred in a vacuum.

” Something constantly was prepared to happen at Attica. The population was tired. Tired of lies, of promises. We were tired,” starts the voiceover as archival video footage of the facility, detainees alone, and prisoners with prison guards streams prior to the word “ATTICA” appears, signifying “video game fully on.”

One-time Attica detainee George Che Nieves offers that narration. Other previous Attica inmates, consisting of Arthur Harrison, Carlos Roche, Lawrence Akil Killebrew, Tyrone Larkins, Daniel Sheppard and David Brosig, join him in telling this story. Sirens accompany their collective first-hand, eyewitness account prior to the narrative opens to voices like those of attorney Joe Heath and Dee Quinn Miller, who was a kid when her father William Quinn got caught in the crossfire.


Prior to William Quinn being surpassed and terribly injured, detainees were separated into four sides. Since prison guards and authorities managed the majority of the center, consisting of the doorways and gates, the rebelling detainees produced a main hub referred to as “Time Square” in the D-Yard.

As the narrative continues, these men get the rare chance to discuss their actions, especially the rationale behind taking captives. The city of Attica’s largely white population depended on the jail for tasks and the stable pipeline of prisoners of color ensured their work.

Questioning this unfortunate status quo, “Attica” carefully links the Black Power Motion to this uprising. Due to the fact that Jackson was eliminated just 3 weeks prior to the uprising at Attica, the environment was especially tense, but the threats were worthwhile.

Citizen Ashe

As those at Attica attempted to negotiate quietly and democratically, their insistence upon outside observers and the existence of Black media representatives (including “Amsterdam News” publisher Clarence B. Jones and ABC News’s John Johnson) helped to expose the system’s hypocrisy. By the time “Attica” reaches the still-shocking massacre committed by police, leaving as numerous as 40 dead and nearly 90 injured (consisting of some of the film’s interviewees), it is more than clear that today’s continuous cops violence and systemic abuse is no aberration.

” Whatever took place, it just needed to make a distinction,” says previous detainee James Asbury, recalling the actions he and other Attica prisoners required to affirm their humanity. Amidst the steady rattle of bullets and pictures of teargas and human carnage, “Attica” asks us, 50 years after this travesty, if it did or if it could.

” Attica” will open in U.S. theaters in October prior to premiering on Showtime.

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Post Author: Izabella Jaworska

Izabella Jaworska 56 Southend Avenue BLACKHEATH IP19 7ZU 070 7077 0588