Daily News header

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary Film Review

By     get stories by email

Reverential Biopic Paints Sympathetic Portrait of Controversial Cause Célèbre

Wesley Cook, aka Mumia Abu-Jamal, was born on April 24, 1954 in the City of Brotherly Love. There, he founded a branch of the Black Panthers at the age of 15 after being kicked by a cop at a rally for segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace.

After attending college in Vermont, he returned to Philly to pursue a career in journalism. He proceeded to provide a voice for the voiceless as a politically-progressive reporter while simultaneously moonlighting as a cab driver, until the fateful night in 1981 when he and his brother William crossed paths with a police officer named Daniel Faulkner.

The cop was killed during the traffic stop, when the bullets from a gun registered to Mumia were emptied into him at close range. Faulkner managed to get off a few shots, wounding Mumia.

At trial, the jury deliberated only a few hours in what seemed like an open-and-shut case, and the defendant was convicted and subsequently handed a death sentence. However, because of Mumia's previously clean record and his having served as such an articulate mouthpiece for the poor and disenfranchised, he soon became something of an international cause célèbre.

Was he indeed a murderer or had he been railroaded to prison because of his radical views? The left and the right would disagree strongly on the issue. Eventually his sentence was commuted to life with no parole, and the fundamental question of guilt or innocence was essentially left unanswered.

The same can be said after viewing Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary, a documentary which doesn't seek so much to clear the controversial figure's name as to showcase his intellect and longstanding defiance of The

Establishment. To director Stephen Vittoria's credit, he hauls out a long line of luminaries like Dr. Cornel West, Ruby Dee, Hurricane Carter, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Dick Gregory and Amy Goodman to take turns heaping praise on his sympathetic subject.

While their heartfelt testimonials leave no doubt about Mumia's commitment to the struggle and considerable talents as a writer, none of them were eyewitnesses to the murder. Thus, this is not a biopic which seeks to poke holes in the prosecution's case or to indict the State of Pennsylvania for a rush to judgment.

Rather, it merely endeavors to highlight the squandered potential of a gifted, if fatally-flawed individual. Love him or hate him, no one watching this inconclusive piece can deny that Mumia has a way with words.

A film that wisely leaves the damning evidence on the back burner in favor of focusing on everything about Mumia Abu-Jamal except for what exactly transpired at the corner of 13th and Locust in the wee hours of December 9, 1981.

Excellent (4 stars)

Unrated

In English and Spanish with subtitles

Running time: 120 minutes

Distributor: First Run Features

To see a trailer for Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary:

Opens February 1st at Cinema Village in New York City, with special appearances by the filmmaker and people appearing in the film.

Kam Williams is a syndicated film and book critic who writes for 100+ publications. He is a member of the New York Film Critics Online, the African-American Film Critics Association, and the NAACP Image Awards Nominating Committee. Contact him through NewsBlaze. Read more reviews by Kam Williams.

  Please click this get stories by email button to be notified about future stories, and please leave a comment below.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

Related Movie Reviews News

Kam Williams presents his top 10 DVD List for April 15, 2014, including Double Indemnity, Touch of Evil, Jan Svankmajer's Alice and Midsomer Murders: Village Case Files
Movie reviewer Kam Williams reviews the Documentary Film 'The Address'. Williams gives the documentary 4 stars and says it is a current-day, Ken Burns PBS production every bit as moving as any of his nostalgic classics.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams interviews actor Marlon Wayans about his new movie, A Haunted House 2 and shares it with NewsBlaze readers around the world.
Movie reviewer Kam Williams gives the film, Small Time 3 stars. He said it is very good and realistic, a slice-of-life drama highlighting the plight of a teen with a hole in his soul who's understandably torn between moving on with his life.
Kam Williams reviews The Railway Man, an introspective story of Eric Lomax, one of 60,000+ POWs forced to build the Burma Railway, known as the Death Railway, because so many died.
Movie review Kam Williams interviews Bridget Moynahan about the movie Small Time. Here she talks about the coming-of-age drama co-starring Christopher Meloni, Devon Bostick and Dean Norris.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site