New Film Offers Rare Glimpse of the Real Mumia Abu-Jamal
Many millions around the world are convinced they know imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from closely examining the ‘whodunit’ contentions surrounding his contentious conviction for the December 9, 1981 slaying of a Philadelphia policeman.
However, few really know the ‘Who’ of Mumia –- the individual behind the international image of a victim of injustice; the grandfather with a layered life beyond the simplistic characterizations of both opponents who bash him as a murderous monster and of supporters who ascribe to him powers of mythical proportions.
The all too often missing ‘Who’ of Mumia Abu-Jamal is what is makes the focus of an engaging new documentary film, “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal,” truly unique. The film opens in New York City on February 1 and Los Angeles on March 1.
"Long Distance Revolutionary" presents the personality and the person of Mumia before, during and after his arrest and conviction for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner unlike all the pervious movies on Abu-Jamal that principally probed contours and contradictions of his trial and conviction.
That missing ‘Who’ is what sparked the interest of Stephen Vittoria, a respected LA-based documentarian who wrote, directed and edited the this film.
“The story I found most remarkable is the story of a man who has produced an incredible body of revolutionary journalism and history under harsh conditions, especially after incarceration,” Vittoria said about his movie.
Vittoria screened “Long Distance” at film festivals from California to Copenhagen and other selected screenings before the forthcoming in-theater release Cinema Village in New York City.
“Thirty plus years on Death Row, no computer or Internet access [yet] he’s published seven books, thousands of written and recorded commentaries…For a filmmaker, that offers deep and resonant opportunities,” Vittoria said. “Like the title suggests, he is a long-distance revolutionary, a man who never talks about his own case but instead takes on the responsibility of giving voice to the voiceless…a man who refuses to let the repressive apparatus of a racist state suffocate his soul.”
This film gives viewers a sense of the ‘Who’ of Abu-Jamal , the content and context of his life, including providing views points from acclaimed philosophers, historians, poets, writers, journalists and revolutionaries, as well as perspectives from members of his family.
Vittoria said the one interview in the film that “blows me away” is with Mumia’s older sister Lydia Barashango, who died months after having the on-camera interview with Vittoria.