DIRECTORS STATEMENT BY SEAN GALLAGHER
The first time I heard about the Black List was in 2007 during my senior year at SUNY Oneonta. As I considered myself to be a rather informed student, I was shocked that I spent three years in Oneonta without any knowledge of what occurred on campus back in 1992. Essentially, the school and the town had swept the incident under the rug.
The context of this story is not an isolated incident but rather serves as an example of institutional racism in higher education and a case study in police work. The Black List is still an emotional subject in the Oneonta community, which makes this story all the more important. While the town is put in the spotlight, this film is intended to focus on what happened rather than where it occurred.
It would be inaccurate to say that the subjects in this film were interviewed. Questions were rarely asked and my role was to provide a safe space for these men and women to share their story through honest and uninterrupted reflections. Many described this process as a much needed therapy session.
Twenty years after the incident occurred, the topics explored in this project are relevant now more than ever and it is my hope that Brothers of the Black List can start dialogue that communities across the country are in dire need of.
STATEMENT BY JONATHAN DEMME
Academy Award winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme is best known as the director of The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Rachel Getting Married and the celebrated Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. He is also recognized for his social justice documentaries, giving voice to many unsung heroes and shedding light on momentous issues with such films as Cousin Bobby, The Agronomist, Jimmy Carter Man from Plains, and I'm Carolyn Parker.
The true-life story behind Sean Gallagher's gripping and deeply moving film Brothers of the Black List arises from a harrowing incident dating back to 1992. This unflinching and beautifully-made documentary bears witness, from a fresh perspective, to the failure of our most honored institutions to help turn the tide on this persistent, chronically vile American social dynamic.
In the days of stop-and-frisk and Trayvon Martin, the well-manicured issue of equal rights -- most especially as applies to young men of african descent -- remains as molten as ever if you just pay attention to whats going on, or if you scratch the skin -- as Sean Gallagher does here, of our nation's racial history through time immemorial.
The eponymous blacklisted brothers themselves are amazing to meet! There is more "rooting interest" on screen in this picture than in any Hollywood blockbuster. Looking back at the events that shaped -- and scarred -- their lives as college students, these heroic, now grown-up Americans make your heart break and your pulse pound at the horror of what they were subjected to, and the heroism and elegance of their response, both then and now.