"An Outrage," a new documentary film about lynching, on Thursday, October 26, 2017, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Brookens Auditorium on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield. The screening and discussion is free and open to the public; doors will open at 3:30 p.m.
The film, produced by the Richmond, Virginia-based independent filmmakers of Field Studio, had its world premiere at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. in March, and will be distributed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project to nearly 500,000 teachers—and their millions of students—across the United States starting this fall.
In April, at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, South Carolina, "An Outrage" received the Audience Award, marking it as the favorite among more than 80 films in competition. In August, the film was awarded Best Documentary Short at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival in Vermont.
"An Outrage" was filmed at lynching sites in six states – Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Virginia – with descendants of victims, community activists, and historians. The film highlights the oft-hidden history of lynching and its resonance today. Jonathan Holloway, Provost of Northwestern University and an historian of the Jim Crow era, notes in the film, “I promise you, once you start taking in the ‘unofficial histories,’ the official history doesn’t look quite so accurate anymore.”
The film is directed, edited, and produced by Hannah Ayers and Lance Warren, co-directors of Field Studio, who seek to make the film a hub for action. “Our principal goal,” notes Warren, “is to spur needed conversations that lead to real change, so the film conveys powerful stories and vital history in short form.” Ayers and Warren are currently on a 20-state tour of the film.
The filmmakers note that the film’s content is particularly timely in light of the national debate about the display of Confederate flags and monuments honoring Confederate leaders and the white supremacist violence in Charleston, Charlottesville, and elsewhere. “An Outrage reveals the long, unbroken tradition of white supremacy in America—as expressed by extremist organizers as well as community complacency—and how its history echoes for the families of the thousands of victims of racial terror,” Ayers says. Warren adds: “We hope the film demonstrates why people of conscience, from all political backgrounds, must resist ongoing injustice, threats, and violence motivated by hatred over ideas about race.”
"An Outrage" includes interviews filmed in an artistic style uncommon for historical documentaries. The interviews include Holloway; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Isabel Wilkerson (author of The Warmth of Other Suns); Mia Bay, Rutgers University historian and Ida B. Wells biographer; and Yohuru Williams, historian and University of St. Thomas Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
"An Outrage" will be available for free to teachers starting this fall through the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, an anti-bias education program with a network of nearly 500,000 teachers across the United States. The film has a 33-minute run time designed for use in classrooms and community forums. Teaching Tolerance is also developing curriculum to use with the film.
Anyone wishing to obtain further information regarding the screening of the film "An Outrage" is welcome to contact Lincoln Home National Historic Site at 217-391-3241 or the University of Illinois Springfield Diversity Center at 217-206-6333.