Kenny Blank, executive director of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, has described this film, which is the opening night offering, as among the most significant films to have been screened in the 20-year history of the festival. It is having its world premiere here.
The documentary is a moving tribute to the historic partnership between Jews and African Americans during the long history of the civil rights struggle in America. As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, the AJFF has mounted an ambitious effort to bring the film not only to the Jewish community in Atlanta, but to the African American community here as well.
Opening night attendees will see many familiar Atlanta faces in the film, including Peter Berg, senior rabbi at The Temple, and Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, one of his predecessors there. Also appearing are veterans of the civil rights movement in the 1960s such as Atlanta Congressman John Lewis, former United Nations Ambassador and Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, and members of the family of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The film was partially financed by donors from the Atlanta Jewish community and was a natural choice for the festival’s 20th anniversary. It reflects, in part, the long history of cooperation between the African American community and the American Jewish Committee in Atlanta, which founded the AJFF. Indeed, some of the early inspiration for the film came during a retreat several years ago that was sponsored by the AJC’s Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition.
The AJC’s work in recent years has helped to mend and strengthen ties between the two communities, which were in danger of fraying after the critical years of the early and mid 1960s.
Following the opening night screening at the Cobb Energy Centre there will be a panel discussion featuring distinguished members of the African American community in Atlanta; Sherry Frank, who was instrumental in founding the Black-Jewish Coalition; Martin Luther King III, one of Dr. King’s sons; and Louis Gossett Jr., the Academy Award-winning actor.