Susan Sarandon to Host Court TV Documentary On the 1971 Attica Prison
Uprising and the 30 Year Journey to Justice That Ended in a Historic
NEW YORK--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--June 20, 2001--
Ghosts of Attica to Premiere on 30th Anniversary of
Prison Uprising, September 9th
In 1971, a prison rebellion in upstate New York and its brutal suppression
seared the word "Attica" permanently into the American psyche.
On the 30th anniversary of the iconic uprising, Court TV will premiere Ghosts
of Attica, a feature-length documentary about the rebellion, which ended in
the deaths of 29 inmates and 10 guards at the hands of State Troopers. Hosted
by Academy Award-winner and noted activist Susan Sarandon, the film will
offer a newly definitive history of America's bloodiest prison rebellion. It
will also chronicle for the first time the journeys to justice made by both
inmates and hostages. The documentary shows both groups -- united by
suffering, but divided by race, class and culture - hurtling towards a
showdown with New York State. This program will premiere on Sunday, September
9th at 9:00 p.m.
The central figure of the inmates' story is Frank "Big Black" Smith. No
political activist when he entered Attica for armed robbery, Smith's life was
transformed by the rebellion. After suffering the guards' most brutal
reprisals -- including cigarette burns and beatings on his groin -- Smith
dedicated his life to seeking justice for the "Attica Brothers." Along with
radical lawyer Liz Fink, his three-decade quest established basic prisoners'
rights for the first time in American law. In 2001, they won a $12 million
settlement from New York State, the largest such award in American history.
That award galvanized long-simmering resentments among another group:
survivors of the guards held hostage at Attica. Led by ex-hostage Mike Smith
(no relation to Frank "Big Black" Smith), this group of state employees
organizes to pressure the government for their own financial settlement. The
guards gradually learn that they too, have been victims of the massive
cover-up and that their opponent is not the inmates, but the state of New
York. The story of the "forgotten victims of Attica" offers both a parallel
and a counterpoint to the inmates' 30-year battle against the state.
Ghosts of Attica features newly uncovered archival images of the standoff,
assault, and aftermath, interviews with key participants who have never
spoken before on camera, and exclusive footage of inmates and hostages as
they press their battles against the state.
The award-winning team of David Van Taylor (A Perfect Candidate, Dream
Deceivers) and Brad Lichtenstein (Andre's Lives) is producing Ghosts of
Attica for Lumiere Productions. Anthony Horn executive produces for Court TV;
Ed Hersh is vice president, documentaries and specials.
Court TV (www.courttv.com or AOL Keyword: Court TV), a basic cable network,
provides a window on the American system of justice through distinctive
programming that both informs and entertains. As the destination for crime
and justice programming, Court TV broadcasts trials by day and compelling
stories of the criminal justice system in the evening. A service of AOL Time
Warner and Liberty Media Corp., Court TV has over 60 million subscribers, and
expects to reach 65 million by early 2002.
Frederika Brookfield, 212/973-7867
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