A Maryland Film Festival panel slated

04 May
May 4, 2015

In the wake of last Monday’s unrest, Jed Deitz, who has nurtured the Baltimore-based festival since its inception, called to ask if I knew of anyone or anything that might be added to the event’s lineup that might address some of what has happened here.

Centered in midtown Baltimore not far from the epicenter of both the mass civil disobedience that has so energized the city, as well as the site of Monday’s unrest, the festival is opening only days after authorities lifted a curfew and, perhaps, with many Marylanders and out-of-towners hesitant about attending the event.

I didn’t have much to offer in the way of screenings.  Episodes of “Show Me A Hero,” an HBO miniseries slated for August, are not yet in final cut.  And, too, that miniseries, while it addresses class and racial segregation in our society, is more about our calcified political processes than directly relevant to the core grievances underlying current events.

But a second miniseries, which centers largely on the final volume of the Taylor Branch’s Pulitzer-winning triology of the civil rights movement seemed to me more relevant.  “At Canaan’s Edge” addresses the three years leading up the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., a period that offers not the affirming, earlier victories of the movement in securing civil rights legislation or desegregated public facilities, but the increasing conflict between non-violent mass protest and rebellion by any means necessary to secure equal treatment and opportunity.

The writing room for that miniseries offers a multitude of perspectives from Branch, a long time Baltimore resident, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates, perhaps our finest essayist on race and also a native of the city, and James McBride, the novelist and screenwriter whose most recent novel, “The Good Lord Bird,” reflecting on the saga John Brown and the employ of violence against American slavery, won the National Book Award.  Eric Overmyer, a noted playwright and veteran writer-producer on both “The Wire” and “Treme” rounds out the room.

Realizing that this fledgling project might be something that could serve Jed’s intentions, I called the others and asked if they could post up in support of the film festival, but more generally, to affirm that city life in Baltimore remains intact and vibrant, even amid this needed campaign for change.  The writers responded by agreeing to participate on the shortest notice, and I’m not surprised.  Honestly, it’s one of the best writers rooms I’ve ever experienced.

And so…the panel, which will take place at 6 p.m. this Friday.

Work on the miniseries is only at the script stage, and for the most part, the five of us have been battling to bring the vast narrative of Taylor’s opus down to a size and shape that works in six hours of drama.  But already, it’s clear to all of us that some of the same issues and arguments that predominated  in 1966 and 1967 still remain in play.

If such a discussion of long-form scriptwriting on the issue of race in America interests you, please come to downtown Baltimore, Maryland.  Or, if not, make the effort to attend other festival events, which aptly include screenings of Spike Lee’s iconic “Do The Right Thing” as well as a new and notable documentary on the Black Panthers, among much other acclaimed work.   The festival — and Baltimore — needs you.

Below is the release that Jed sent out today:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Melina Giorgi

410 752-8083

[email protected]

Maryland Film Festival Announces Premier Writer Panel as major addition to MFF 2015

 A Work in Progress: Writing Race

Friday May 8th, featuring Taylor Branch, Ta-Nehisi Coates, James McBride and David Simon.

The Maryland Film Festival (MFF) will present an extraordinary panel within the schedule of free events in the MFF Tent Village, featuring four members of a five-member writing staff currently tasked with writing an HBO miniseries based on the detailed history of the some of the most volatile years of the American civil rights movement. The panel consists of Atlantic magazine editor and renowned essayist and commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Book Award winner James McBride, HBO producer and former journalist David Simon, and Taylor Branch, whose Pulitzer-winning three-volume history of the civil rights movement is being adapted for the six-hour miniseries.

The four writers, three of whom have long-standing ties to Baltimore, are at work on scripts for a miniseries that will draw from Branch’s celebrated trilogy, America in the King Years. (Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan’s Edge) which chronicles the civil rights movement between 1954 and 1968.

The project is slated to be the next miniseries produced by HBO and Simon’s Baltimore-based Blown Deadline Productions, following the completion of “Show Me A Hero,” another six-part miniseries slated to broadcast this summer on HBO. That miniseries, which also addresses American racial dynamics, chronicles the divisive battle to build low-income housing in a predominantly white section of Yonkers, N.Y. two decades ago.

Brought in to helm the King Years miniseries, Simon, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, author, and producer of HBO’s “The Wire” and “Treme” gathered the other three writers and longtime collaborator Eric Overmyer (“Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Treme”) to begin to boil Branch’s definitive three-volume history into six hours of drama.

“Breaking story is in many respects the hardest and most thoroughly intellectualized task in longform television,” says Simon, a city resident since 1984. “How your writers room works – or doesn’t – is the first great hurdle for any production. And when you are dealing with non-fiction – real events, real names – and attempting some real measure of historical fealty, the work is even more complicated.”

Simon and Overmyer recruited the other three writers shortly after signing on to produce the miniseries for HBO.

“Eric and I had a shopping list for writers that began with James, Ta-Nehisi and, of course, Taylor himself. On the power of Ta-Nehisi’s prosework and political acumen, and the beauty of what James achieved with the historical narrative of “The Good Lord Bird,” they were far and away our first choices along with, of course, Taylor. To our great relief, we never had to contemplate a second choice; I credit the power of Taylor’s original work and the importance of the historical moments that underlie that narrative.”

The panel will try to offer insights into the process of developing a significant and acclaimed historical literary work into drama for a medium that until recently has not proved particularly welcoming to precise renderings of history.

“This panel is an extraordinary opportunity for audiences to hear writers of the highest level and at this early stage of development share their process,” said MFF director Jed Dietz. “In addition, the content of the series is timely and relevant for our city, and a powerful way to frame the conversations around protest.”

Simon, who has previously participated in several MFF events, notes that the cultural and political moment is right for bringing Branch’s books to the screen.

“If there was ever a time to contemplate the costs, risks and potentiality that come with non-violent protest – as well as the costs and potentialities of the alternatives, this is it,” Simon says. “Baltimore has just passed through a hard, tense moment which tested the delicate balance between non-violent public dissent and civil unrest. The issues and needs of our society with regard to class and race are different than a half century ago, but many of the forces in play, as well as the dynamic in which the conflict is joined and pursued – these are very much the same the same.”

Simon adds: “The arguments that many of us are now having about both the morality and efficacy of a violent uprising, or of non-violent disobedience – these precise arguments are the core of the Branch trilogy. They are still the arguments and they still matter.”

With Coates being a native of Baltimore, and Simon and Branch both longtime residents of the city, the writers say they all find it notable that they are participating in the Maryland Film Festival, centered in a neighborhood only blocks from intersections where both the exhilarating and prolonged mass protests against police violence and the stark imagery of one night’s rioting took place. They see the film festival as an affirmation of city life in Baltimore.

MFF Director Dietz said that this great writing team, much of it deeply connected to Baltimore, joins an exciting and diverse Maryland Film Festival Program. “This years’ MFF program was obviously put together before the demonstrations of the last week, but it is full of movies that will inform, compel, and entertain audiences,” he said. “The movie art form is unusually accessible for filmmakers and audiences, and it is bursting with excitement and creativity right now., This program reflects that. There is literally Film for Everyone, “ he pointed out. Dietz added: “We are especially grateful that David and this extraordinary group of writers will be part of MFF 2015 as Baltimore takes its next step.”

Notably, the four writers made a decision early that it was largely Taylor’s last volume, At Canaan’s Edge, that should be the greater focus of the miniseries. There has been much filmed about the early and extraordinary heroism of the civil rights movement, but from 1965 to King’s assassination, there is a different story to tell about the country’s willingness to extend equality under the law to equality of opportunity, and a profound struggle among black leaders and activists to reconcile both the moral power and practical costs of non-violence against the fundamental need to self-defense and self-determination “by any means necessary.”

Taylor Branch said: “It has been a humbling thrill for me to join Ta-Nehisi and James on the HBO screenwriting team assembled by David and Eric, whose honesty about race made “The Wire” a classic.  Our panel at the Maryland Film Festival will preview an urgent challenge of contemporary art and politics.  How did a black-led citizens’ movement in the 1960s open stubborn gates of freedom for the whole country?  In cynical times, can unflinching history light the future?”

In addition to Blown Deadline Productions, the miniseries is being coproduced by Harpo Productions, the film production company of Baltimore native Oprah Winfrey.

The panel will take place at 6:00pm on Friday, May 8th at the MFF Tent Village, located on the East Side Parking Lot of MICA’s Lazarus Center at 131 W. North Avenue in the Station North Arts & Entertainment District. (Tickets are $12, $10 student, and are available online at mdfilmfest.com. After tickets are sold, there will be a stand by option as there is for all MFF screenings.)

About the Authors

Taylor Branch is an American author and public speaker best known for his landmark narrative history of the civil rights era, America in the King Years. The trilogy’s first book, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63, won the Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards in 1989. In 2009, Simon and Schuster published The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President. Far more personal than Branch’s previous books, this memoir tells of an unprecedented eight-year project to gather a sitting president’s comprehensive oral history on tape. In the October 2011 issue of The Atlantic, Branch published an influential cover story entitled “The Shame of College Sports,” which author and NPR commentator Frank Deford said “may well be the most important article ever written about college sports.”  The article touched off continuing national debate

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor for The Atlantic, and blogger for that publication’s website where he writes about cultural, social and political issues. Coates has worked for The Village VoiceWashington City Paper, and Time. He has contributed to The New York Times MagazineThe Washington PostThe Washington MonthlyO, and other publications. In 2008 he published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood. He joined the City University of New York as its journalist-in-residence in the fall of 2014. He grew up in Baltimore, attended Howard University, and recently spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at Johns Hopkins on the subject, “The Clock Didn’t Start with the Riots.”

James McBride is an author, musician and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, remained on New York Times bestseller list for two years. His latest novel about American revolutionary John Brown, The Good Lord Bird, is the winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. McBride is a former staff writer for The Boston Globe, People magazine and The Washington Post, and has toured as a saxophonist sideman with jazz legends like Jimmy Scott. He has also written songs for Anita Baker, Grover Washington Jr., Pura Fe, and Gary Burton, and is currently a Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University.

David Simon is an author, screenwriter, and producer who draws from his background as a crime beat reporter to craft narratives that probe urban America’s most complex and poorly understood realities. A 2010 MacArthur Fellow, Simon has authored a wide range of nonfiction works, both in journalism (as a Baltimore Sun reporter and freelancer) and book-length form, he is best known for his contributions to drama; he has been a screenwriter and/or producer for several critically acclaimed television series, including Homicide: Life on the Street (1993–1999), The Wire (2002–2008), and Treme (2010–2013). Simon is the author of Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (1991) and co-author of The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood(1997), and his additional television projects include the HBO miniseries The Corner (2000) and Generation Kill (2008). Simon’s latest HBO series, Show Me a Hero, depicting racial confict amid court-ordered housing segregation, stars Oscar Isaac and is directed by Paul Haggis.

About the Maryland Film Festival

The mission of the Maryland Film Festival is to bring films, filmmakers, and audiences together in a friendly, inclusive atmosphere that reflects the authenticity and unpretentious nature of the greater Baltimore community. This community participates in and adds to the larger film dialogue across the country and across the world. Ultimately, MFF provides “film for everyone.”

Founded in 1999, MFF has provided the greater Baltimore community access to top-notch film and video work from all over the world. Dedicated to showcasing Baltimore as a thriving center of film culture and filmmaking, MFF has continued to expand its ability to nurture and challenge the next generation of filmgoers to appreciate film as both art and entertainment.

MFF has become an essential component in the continued cultural development of Baltimore, especially in regards to the revitalization of Station North Arts and Entertainment District (Station North). Beginning with the first festival that opened the newly expanded Charles Theater sixteen years ago, MFF now has moved farther into Station North, and includes a Filmmaker Tent Village adjacent to MICA’s Lazarus Center and multiple other locations in Station North allowing audiences to engage more directly with the neighborhood. With these venues, unique screenings and presentations, MFF has established itself as a major stop on the national film festival circuit, bringing over 2,000 films and 1,500 filmmakers to Baltimore. In addition to its annual festival, MFF programs 80 different screenings throughout the year.

In December 2012, MFF launched a historic campaign to restore Station North’s Parkway Theatre and three adjoining structures into a state-of-the-art film center. Opening in early 2017, this will provide the festival with a year-round venue and exciting opportunity to market Station North as a place to live, work, and play and promote it as a regional and national destination for film and theater innovation.

 

 

 

25 replies
  1. Georgie says:

    Pulitzers and National Book Awards aside, be very, very careful! As a predominantly white writing team, there are nonetheless very stark limits on your ability to fully understand (and by extension, fully convey) the full range of emotions built up from 350-plus years of literal non-stop, terroristic, psychological torture. And you very much need to maintain something akin to a healthy fear of that fundamental limitation as you go about the process of bringing these projects to life! Why? Because — to somewhat channel your seeming archnemesis “KT” — there is literally no bigger mistake you can potentially make (both on these TV projects and also with your recent blog post) than to even slightly convey that you know best how black people should emotionally respond to literally being institutionally tortured by the full weight of the US government for going on 400 years. Particularly, as that “ongoing” torture relates to the supposed “official” ending of it by the 14th Amendment. And then, strangely enough, supposedly again by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    While the magnitude of your personal passion about the inarguable merits of nonviolent resistance is unmistakable and highly, highly admirable. Nonetheless, don’t ever let that passion cause you to forget, for even one second, that you haven’t walked in these people’s hideous and horrendous shoes. (All while living in “the land of liberty”.) And as such, you (and no one else white — no matter how many awards you’ve won) have absolutely NO right to even accidentally “preach” at them that they MUST see the horrors they’ve endured from YOUR perspective. To do so is both arrogant and insensitive, and will ultimately result in 40 million people collectively telling you to “go fuck yourself”! “Wire” and “Treme” be damned!

    Now, here’s the kicker…

    I agree absolutely wholeheartedly with what you’ve been trying to convey. But the difference between a tone of “wanting to help” versus a tone of “preaching at” matters like hell!

    Why?

    Self-determination!

    Of their lives…AND their feelings!!! (In fact, it’s a HUGE part of why people like Spike say blacks should direct films about black lives.)

    It’s an invisible and virtually never directly discussed in mixed company, but highly explosive, line. Don’t ever cross it (even by accident)!

    Now despite my little soliloquy here, believe it or not, you’re still one of my heroes…but stay the hell away from that line…PLEASE!!! And make sure your writing team also understands it emphatically too!!! Or, at best, you’ll end up with very hurt feelings.

    Best wishes.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      1. Mr. Coates and Mr. McBride are African-American. Mr. Branch has spent most of his professional life either engaged in the civil rights struggle as a young man or researching and writing about it. I’ve spent most of my professional life writing about law enforcement, the drug war, and the city of Baltimore.

      2. I’ve been told my entire professional life that because I am white there are things that I will be blind to — ergo I should be tepid or cautious with my work. It is true I am white. Had I listened to advice like yours, I’d’ve never taken the city police beat at the Baltimore Sun when offered, never written or reported Homicide or the Corner, never written or produced The Wire, never written or produced the upcoming miniseries Show Me A Hero, never engaged to try to deliver the miniseries on the later King Years. I’d’ve sat on my hand worried about offending those people still trapped in 1974 and convinced that only a red-headed left-handed socialist Inuit can truly understand anything worthwhile about a red-headed, left-handed socialist Inuit. I have thirty years of ignoring your exact advice. I plan on a few more.

      Human beings are human beings and systems are systems and yes there are somethings I miss because I am white, to be sure. Did it ever occur to you that there might be some things that I objectively see because I am not of the exact mindset and background as police officers, or those being heavily policed, that perhaps some distance makes for more objective assessment and honest clarity? It doesn’t sound like you have.

      Reply
      • Georgie says:

        That’s quite the big, red, glowing, pulsating hot button you’ve got there!

        One final shot…

        I…I…I…I…I…I…

        That’s the single most glaring weakness of why we don’t have rational conversations about race in America! Everyone wants to frame the conversation in terms of ME! But the truth is, virtually any random black 25-year old in West Baltimore knows more about the who, what, where, when and whys of what race means in America than you or Taylor Branch could ever hope to (maybe even a random teenager)!!! Regardless of your accolades and accomplishments. They don’t NEED guys like you, they want you. Huge difference.

        They want their lives AND their voices to matter! Once again, self determination! At absolute best, you can only help them to be heard. You will NEVER have anything remotely resembling the ability to speak FOR them! Or preach to them about how they should respond to their hurts!

        They tell YOU what did, and what is going to happen here. YOU don’t get to dictate THEIR truth TO them! Regardless of what you FEEL like you’ve invested to this point. Because ultimately it’s THEIR story to tell as THEY see fit…not yours. Stop overestimating your role in this process! Take a step back and look at all the I, I, I’s you’re injecting into these conversations! Because that happens to be the same basic formula that most clueless whites use to respond to conversations about racism in America. Your ego’s writing checks that you butt can’t cash (related to how much of a difference you THINK you’re making FOR black people), but I do nonetheless believe you’re better than that.

        It’s THEIR history, THEIR feelings, THEIR lives, and THEIR narrative to tell as THEY see fit. (In fact, one of America’s greatest failings regarding race, is not even allowing blacks to possess THAT without major white input!) So, on your best day EVER, all you will be able to do is be their helper in telling THEIR stories. And not one ounce more!!!

        Either respect that cold hard fact (and all that it implies) or prepare to be very painfully humbled by it.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          You’re the one framing it around the ad hominem. I’m arguing content. And certainly, I’m as open to hearing anyone else’s ideas and experiences offered up in this dialectic. From Taylor, from Ta-Nehisi, from James, or any of those who come to the forum. From anyone and everyone who has something to say and some insight to offer.

          Some of them will be white and will say things of value, and some of them will be white and say some dumb shit. Same is true for black folk, or Latinos, or noneoftheabove, or rich, or poor. But no one is suggesting that room shouldn’t be made in the marketplace of ideas for everyone. And I’m sorry, but I reject out of hand the notion that only those who are of a particular minority or majority or class can speak to a particular reality. Good thing we let the boys write the girls, or we wouldn’t have Madame Bovary. Good thing we let the Gentiles write the Jews or we wouldn’t have Schindler’s List. My best friend for many years, the late, great David Mills, used to cringe when anyone suggested that he was brought on NYBD Blue or The Wire to write the black characters: “What the fuck? They don’t think I can write the hell out of white people.”

          This cultural and political reductivism is just bullshit. If your characterizations, or storytelling, or political arguments are inferior and if they stand in ignorance of the reality of the experience of those you are addressing, then the work will determine that. You will be exposed by the work. If not, then the work will stand. But fuck all to telling anybody — black, white, brown, yellow, male, female, Jewish, Gentile — who they can or can’t contemplate and write about as human beings. That’s a mug’s game.

          Reply
          • kt says:

            I think there’s a difference between writing your observations in fiction and actually telling black people publicly – in a non-fiction context – how you feel they ought to behave.

            Also, I happen to know this because I had some minor professional dealings with the family long ago — the gentile who wrote Schindler’s List didn’t just decide “let me write about the plight of the Jews”, he was convinced to do it by one of Schindler’s Jews who owned a luggage shop (if I recall correctly) in L.A. and would bend his ear all the time about it when he came in saying you’re a novelist, this would make a good story. Otherwise tbe author might not have been interested or been able to represent the perspective of the people he was writing about. The first-person narrative comes first…

            I’m ashamed to say I’m blanking on the man’s name (it’s been 12 years) but I’ll look it up in a minute. He owned the only two photos of Oskar Schindler known to exist at that time…

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              I didn’t tell black folk shit.

              I praised people — black or white, I made no racial distinction — for doing the hard work of standing up to this repression. And then I criticized those with a brick in their hands, rioting — regardless of their race, only on their actions — for doing exactly that and that only. Your rhetoric is neither accurate nor honest.

              You want someone to condemn the violence of the state and the excesses of our militarized law enforcement, but go gutless and quiet when legitimate mass protest devolves into mob violence. I’m not that kind of hypocrite. I believe in non-violence as a moral imperative and as practical strategy.

              MLK had been preaching non-violence and had achieved its essential victories in Montgomery and Selma when he went north in 1966 and had gang members in Chicago call him out on his silence on Vietnam. How, they asked, can you preach non-violence for your own purposes but turn a blind eye to the violence of the state? King had very good reasons not to make the Riverside speech, to abandon even tacit support for Vietnam, or even the neutrality that a cautious silence provides. The Johnson administration at that point, after Selma, was utterly allied with the movement and Vietnam, King could have reasoned, was someone else’s argument to make. Certainly, King had his hands full pressing for economic reforms and equality of opportunity in the north. But violence, to King, was violence. He made the Riverside speech and alienated the president who had utterly supported his primary political cause.

              Understand: I’m not suggesting for a moment that writing a two-paragraph blog post saying don’t riot because such unrest impairs this legitimate protest for ends that are small, brutish and selfish is remotely comparable to MLK talking hard, costly truth to the ultimate power. That would be ridiculous, so please don’t misuse the analogy. What I am saying, however, is simply that in the much smaller framework of what I write about and what I believe in, if I am going to spend all of this verbiage criticizing the misuse and overuse of state-sponsored violence, then I am a hypocritical asshole if I don’t vocalize some measure of criticism for random violence as it threatens innocent people, or as it mars or overtakes a protest in which I believe. And holding my tongue because those acting in violence are themselves long victimized by violence is, I’m sorry, condescending rationalization. The same person who would expend much of his adult professional output arguing against the violence of the drug prohibition, or critiquing modern war as policy, or giving rants against zero tolerance and mass incarceration wherever invited is the same person who sees the brick as a last-ditch surrender of the moment. The brick may be inevitable at points; it may be understandable. It doesn’t make it less a myopic, selfish and brutish choice. It doesn’t make it less a failure for its cause in the end.

              Here’s a different perspective than the one you seem locked into, KT: Perhaps I actually believe the politically and economically unempowered can, through better means, achieve more in the way of systemic change than you yourself credit. Perhaps, you holding up the urban poor as being only and inevitably capable of a small and violent insurrection, rather than a more substantive political victory, is actually infantilizing the underclass in a manner that is, in itself, more patronizing than anything you perceive in my tone.

              Reply
              • kt says:

                Once again you insist upon putting words in my mouth and arguing against things I didn’t say. You’re arguing with a ghost.

                I never said poor black people (many of them children) are only capable of rioting. They (and Baltimoreans of every color) have been capable of a ton of peaceful and productive protest in the past several weeks, none of which you seem to have chosen to participate in or write about. You are the one choosing to focus on a single day of property damage, not me. Even in your last few paragraphs of faint praise above you insist upon hemming & hawing over someone tossing a plastic water bottle, which again, one can see a drunken Towson sorority girl do in Powerplant every ten minutes or so.

                Reply
              • kt says:

                Also I think it is worth remembering that MLK preached non-violence and died from the bullet of an off-duty (or was it retired?) law enforcement officer anyway.

                I am sorry if other black people do not die peacefully enough for you. Not everyone can be MLK.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  “I am sorry if other black people do not die peacefully enough for you.”

                  That’s it for me, Kt. There’s nothing more to argue. That last comment was contemptible. I know you can’t see the boundaries of logic on this and your rhetoric has become ridiculous (MLK was killed therefore the ideas and principles of his movement, along with all the accomplishments of that movement, die with him. Really?), but you’ve now graduated to suggesting that I’m content to see people die, black or white, as long as they do it peacefully. Okay. I get it.

                  If that’s what you’ve found for yourself in this dynamic, you’re in the same kill file as the Cro-Magnon that just posted that foam-mouthed racist diatribe about an hour ago. He wasn’t interested in civility either. I gave you far more leash, but apparently you took that as an invitation to the crudest kind of insult.

                  Reply
    • kt says:

      Just a point, but I’m hardly Mr. Simon’s “archnemesis”. I’m a huge fan (or was, anyway; I’m wavering now). If I wasn’t I wouldn’t have been so hurt and disappointed by his reaction in this situation. You don’t see me over on Geraldo’s blog giving him guff — I expected it of him. Not of Mr. Simon.

      If you look back you’ll see I’ve posted on this blog for months (maybe a year?) and I never even had a particularly critical word to say before now.

      Not that I don’t think you are making a solid and important point here regarding self-determination. Just wanted to clarify my status.

      Reply
      • Georgie says:

        Point very much taken. And sincerest unconditional apologies for a very, very poor attempt at humor. For what little it’s worth, it was rooted in my perception of the sheer number of posts that you appeared to be making all over his blog. Combined with his, likewise, seemingly huge number of responses directly back at you.

        But for the most part, it’s neither here nor there, because my interest here is starting to wane quite quickly, and I don’t suspect I’ll be posting here for very much longer anyway.

        Thanks for responding.

        Best wishes.

        Reply
        • kt says:

          No need to apologize at all, I only wanted to clarify. As for the number of my responses…I’m a bit of an emotional masochist, I suppose. A smarter person would give up.

          Best wishes to you too.

          Reply
  2. den says:

    You better make sure you have some security there – as far as I’m concerned this is like the Baltimore State of the Union with the whole President,Cabinet, Congress and Supreme Court under one roof. Without you guys, once the national media leaves Baltimore we’d never hear about it again in the rest of the country!

    Reply
  3. Max H. says:

    Mr. Simon,

    I hesitate to ask this because I’m aware of how this could come off as presumptuous and rude: are you guys in need of writers’ assistants (or anything similar) for the new series? I’m a D.C.-based paralegal from Maryland who went to college for screenwriting. I’ve reached the point where I’m eager to pursue my passion and start working in film and TV in some capacity. Either way, sorry to bother you!

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      There’s no greenlight for this yet, much less a production budget. But if you want to send a resume in general, forward to Blown Deadline Productions, 146 E. Clement Street, Baltimore, MD 21230

      Reply
      • Max H. says:

        Regardless of how things turn out, I really appreciate the response! Extremely kind. I will definitely send my resume along. Thank you.

        Reply
  4. Saskia says:

    Brilliant news, that art, culture and creativity will, no doubt, shine a healing and thoughtful light in the form of the film festival and it’s concomitant community at a critical moment in a crucial place both in Baltimore and the USA , The issues raised by #blacklivesmatter, (shorthand for paramilitary policing, racial profiling, unaccountable state killing , and a widespread, deep rooted, civil rights, community movement to stand against it etc) are getting a heard across society, despite the corporate concerns of the news media. I share your feeling that a profound civil rights movement is nascent.

    The revolution in social media and technology, means that all who can watch become virtual witnesses to recorded realities.. Although 24 hour news channels replay cell phone snuff movies in an obscene and degrading way, (whilst laughably censoring fucks and shits) such footage has changed the conversation. Made “real” and unimpeachable to those who see it, peaceful, unarmed citizens brutalised and killed by “security guards” and “law enforcers” who are supposed to protect their community.

    Our governments learned from the graphic footage of Vietnam which belied their spin, to try to control what could be seen and heard. That power is being dramatically eroded by citizen journalism and internet access, in this case illuminating the annual slaughter of mostly black men and empowering a movement of citizens to demand change.

    In this climate, our creativity and culture have an essential role, telling stories, thought provoking, reflecting and challenging. Recent events in Baltimore have had international impact, top of the news on the BBC World Service for days for example. I am certain that interest in Baltimore by millions of people in the world has been nurtured by TV about the city. The Wire, a seminal TV series for many reasons apart from it’s superb creative team, changed television forever. It was a “first”, which is why we all watched it and why so many feel they have an emotional stake in a city most will never visit, though they feel like they have been there. An unlikely star, Baltimore has probably been a good pull for the Maryland Film Festival over the years.

    So, I hope this year’s festival is especially successful and helps Baltimoreans feel proud of themselves and gives space and strength for people and ideas to come together striving for better. it is a great sorrow that Star Trek’s transporter beam still eludes us, how I would love to come to Friday’s discussion! A quality livestream would be fantastic for the virtual audience, if it happens please post link on this discussion.

    Wishing you all a productive time.

    PS I notice that Baltimore has inherited Oakland’s former police chief (who gave him the job?) who, amongst many incidents, oversaw the brutal policing of Occupy Oakland making the unfortunate Scott Olsen an international figure. A friend posted this article today about the outsourcing of policing there and another name on the list of unarmed black dead. Thought you might be interested https://www.theoutsidernews.com/articles/2015/02/20/jacorey-calhoun-and-outsourcing-oakland-police-violence

    Reply
  5. Mr 49% says:

    This was sold out by 12:30….dang it.

    I didn’t see a “waiting” option under MissionTix

    Reply
  6. FRANK BLACK says:

    It’s fantastic to know that there’s not just one miniseries coming from you(in august) but another one already in the works. Of the miniseries you had in development the “Martin Luther King one” was the one i was more interested in. I still hope you’re going to find a TV-Series that you’ll want to make with HBO but for now i can’t wait to be educated by your art pieces once again(even in miniseries form); it’s reassuring to know that some meaningful and thought provoking art is still being made on television.

    Reply
  7. Sandeep Atwal says:

    Thanks for the update, a video of the event would be much appreciated!

    Reply
  8. Migelito says:

    Sounds great. I hope a transcript or video of this surfaces someday.

    Reply

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