Dawn Porter, Director and Producer
Laura Michalchyshyn, Producer
Issues at stake
Voting Rights and the Civil Rights Movement
More About The Film
The Film Night
The DAUK Film Committee and Black Caucus held an exclusive UK online screening of Dawn Porter’s widely acclaimed John Lewis: Good Trouble. We were also, thanks to special permissions, able to screen Oprah Winfrey’s moving and insightful interview with John Lewis that was conducted in June 2020 – just a month before his passing.
The film provides an elegantly constructed portrait of this fearless fighter against systemic racism, campaigner and Civil Rights icon, alongside an eloquent message about the vital importance of voting: “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”
The evening was a moment to reflect on his life and achievements and to draw inspiration and determination from the integrity and perseverance of the man known as the ‘the conscience of congress’, who called upon all of us to join him in getting into “… good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.” With the soul of America currently in peril, this film couldn’t be more timely.
About John Lewis
John Lewis was the ‘boy from Troy’, Alabama, a son of sharecroppers. In the early 1960s, inspired by Martin Luther King Jr – his own mentor – he became one of the first freedom riders and spent the rest of his life working to create a fairer and more just society. Originally trained as a preacher, Lewis, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1986, represented Georgia District 5 for 33 years, until his death this year at the age of 80.
John Lewis was known as the “conscience of congress”.
Along with working for civil rights, Lewis campaigned for gun control, fair housing, voters’ rights, LGBT+ rights and the protection of the environment. The film reveals him as tenacious, courageous and principled. And he loved to dance.
John Lewis stressed that “The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.”
Photo: courtesy of Magnolia Pictures Press Kit
For a useful overview of John Lewis’s life, see this outline: A timeline of events in the life of Rep. John Lewis
About the film
Director Dawn Porter is a much-acclaimed documentary filmmaker whose work covers a wide range of issues in modern America. We screened Trapped (on abortion rights and the TRAP laws) in 2016, and she has just completed The Way I See It, which revolves around Peter Souza, former Chief Official White House photographer.
Porter draws upon archival footage going back many decades, to recall the pivotal events in a lifetime of activism on behalf of racial justice. These include Lewis’s powerful speech at the 1963 March on Washington; the ‘Bloody Sunday’ march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where his beating from a state trooper led to a fractured skull; and the 50th commemoration of Bloody Sunday in 2015, where Lewis was joined in Selma by President Barack Obama.
There are also illuminating interviews with him, his family, colleagues and a wide range of politicians including Barack Obama, who regarded Lewis as his mentor, the late Elijah Cummings, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary and Bill Clinton and the new generation of Congressional representatives such as AOC and Ilhan Omar, who credit Lewis for paving their way for engagement and success in electoral politics.
We are very grateful to the filmmakers Dawn Porter and Laura Michalchyshyn, AGC Studios and Post Haste for making arrangements for this screening, and to Sky for granting us the opportunity to make this screening available to DAUK members.
The Filmmakers supporting this Film Night
About Dawn Porter
Adapted from this source:
Dawn Porter is an award-winning filmmaker. Her most recent films include this film – John Lewis: Good Trouble, and The Way I See It focused on Pete Souza, the official White House photographer during the Reagan and Obama presidencies . We screened her 2016 documentary Trapped. Her 2013 documentary, Gideon’s Army, won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award, the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. The film broadcast on HBO in July 2013 and has been used to engage local communities about indigent defense, the U.S. justice system and socioeconomic influences on crime.
Dawn’s other films include Spies of Mississippi (2014, PBS) and Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper, a documentary film chronicling President Obama’s program to help young men and boys of color succeed. Dawn interviewed President Obama for the film, which aired nationally on The Discovery Channel and The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) in 2015.
Dawn is a Keppler Speaker. She has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and is a returning guest on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show. Prior to her work as a filmmaker, Dawn was director of standards and practices at ABC News and vice president of standard and practices at A&E Television Networks. She graduated from Swarthmore College and Georgetown Law Center and practiced law at the firm of Baker & Hostetler for five years.
Interviews with Dawn Porter:
“Wonderfully American: Dawn Porter on John Lewis” – an interview with Robert Daniels, July 2. 2020.
“John Lewis: Good Trouble’ Director Dawn Porter on Her Time With the Late Congressman and Honoring His Legacy” – an interview with Ellise Shafer, Variety. September 29, 2020.
About Laura Michalchyshyn:
Laura is an accomplished producer and media executive whose career in film and television spans over 25 years. Laura recently produced John Lewis: Good Trouble with Dawn Porter and collaborating producers Erka Alexander and Ben Arnon of Color Farm. In 2018, she produced the 4-hour documentary series Bobby Kennedy for President with director Dawn Porter and RadicalMedia. In 2012, Laura co-founded Sundance Productions with Robert Redford and together they executive-produced HBO’s Momentum Generation, AMC’s The American West as well as Death Row Stories and Chicagoland, for CNN.
Laura’s led cable channels including Sundance Channel, Discovery’s Planet Green and Showcase with Alliance Atlantis Broadcasting heading up their programming and development teams. Her awards include three Emmys, a GLAAD and a Peabody. She is now Chief Creative Officer and Co- President of Content for the global company, Blue Ant Media.
She has recently produced Death Row Stories (2016) a TV series about the role and impact of the death penalty in the flawed U.S. legal system – drawing upon stories told by those who have lived on death row, including some exonerated former prisoners. In 2018 she worked with Dawn Porter on a Netflix 4-part documentary Bobby Kennedy for President – a widely admired and richly documented examination of RFK’s political life and career.
Interviews with other co-producers:
.”Making Good Trouble”. Interview with Ben Arnon in Emory Magazine, July 1, 2020.
Disclaimer: The screening of this film does not constitute an endorsement or promotion of the film, nor of any views expressed therein or any association with The Film Committee, DAUK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party. Screenings are solely conceived as educational activities: offering an opportunity for members to discuss issues.
Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad – UK.