The United States’ most celebrated prison inmate Mumia Abu Jamal is the subject of a new documentary from director Stephen Vittoria (who won awards for his George McGovern documentary One Bright Shining Moment) titled Long Distance Revolutionary and built around interviews from the likes of Alice Walker, Cornel West, Dick Gregory and other luminaries of the black power movement in its various phases and forms. Okayplayer just received a screener of this striking new project in the mail, so we’ll let you know what we think once we’ve had a chance to watch, but for now check out the trailer, and read an excerpt from Vittoria’s recent interview with L+T, discussing how the input of some of these incredible figures shaped his vision of the film and its subject:
Q: You’ve said that Mumia’s sister was the most interesting person that you talked to. Who else did you talk to that had fascinating insight about Mumia or American life in general?
SV: I can tell you an obvious choice would be Cornel West. I can speak to Cornel and talk to him and he will forever intrigue me. Dick Gregory was an incredible interview. One of the unfortunate things as a filmmaker is you can’t put everything in the film. We’re gonna try to put more on the DVD when it comes out so people can see some of these interviews. Alice Walker was incredibly insightful. Ruben “Hurricane” Carter having been in a very similar situation himself had great insight into Mumia’s personal hell. Someone else that really brought a lot of Mumia’s past life to the forefront was Barbara Cox Easley, who was with him in the Black Panthers in Philadelphia and talked about how Mumia was never a chauvinist. He had incredibly open arms to all colors, both sexes at a very young age, and I thought that was really [remarkable] for Barbara to talk about his embrace of women as equal partners. I think Mumia got that from his mom. He had a very strong relationship with his mom and a huge amount of respect for her life and how hard she worked.