Stanley Nelson and Firelight Films have partnered with Independent Lens on a new trilogy of films that will chronicle pivotal moments in American history driven by Black artists, cultural leaders, and everyday people. Nelson will direct and produce three new documentaries comprising “America Revisited II.” The films will span topics such as the rise of funk music, the evolution of African American art, and the deeply rooted, vibrant history of Harlem.
The trilogy will kick off with “Make It Funky: The History of Funk,” followed by “In Our Own Image: The Story of African-American Art,” and conclude with “Harlem: The Soul of the Nation.” In addition, Nelson will direct “Creating the New World: The Transatlantic Slave Trade,” a previously announced documentary that was commissioned for “America Revisited I,” an earlier trilogy of films Nelson also directed for Independent Lens.
“I’m thrilled to be working with “Independent Lens’ again on ‘America Revisited II,’ following such a successful run with the first two films from the earlier trilogy, ‘Tell Them We Are Rising’ and ‘The Black Panthers’—both of which continue to resonate in national conversations around racial justice happening today,” said filmmaker and Firelight Films founder Stanley Nelson. “With this next trilogy, I’m excited to turn my lens toward Black artists and culture, and to explore and pay tribute to the rich history of Harlem, the place I call home.”
Awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama, Nelson has directed and produced numerous acclaimed films, many of them covering the civil rights movement and the fight for equality. Many have become landmarks in documentary filmmaking including: “Freedom Summer,” “Freedom Riders,” “Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple,” and “The Murder of Emmett Till.” The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker also directed and produced “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” winner of the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary, and “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities,” both of which were part of “America Revisited I” and debuted on “Independent Lens” in 2016 and 2018 respectively. “The Black Panthers” remains the highest rated independent documentary to have aired on PBS.
The “America Revisited II” trilogy is produced in partnership with Nelson’s production company Firelight Films and co-funded by ITVS, the leading funder of public television productions in the U.S., as part of its Series and Special Projects initiative. ITVS also co-funded the films featured in “America Revisited I.” The films of “America Revisited II” will premiere on the ITVS flagship series “Independent Lens” on PBS.