NHdocs: the New Haven Documentary Film Festival 2021

When Liberty Burns

Expired March 22, 2021 3:45 AM
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NHdocs proudly presents an encore of last year's winner of the Golden Slice Award for Best Feature Film, the remarkable WHEN LIBERTY BURNS!

NOTE: This screening will be available from Friday, March 19, 2021 beginning at 6:00 pm through Sunday, March 21, 2021 at 11:45 pm.

One night, an innocent black man fails to stop at a red light. The man gets brutally murdered by a group of savage police officers. The police (barely) cover their tracks. An all-white jury declare the cops as innocent. No justice is served. Riots and looting ensue. Does this all sound familiar to you?  Released just two months before the murder of George Floyd, When Liberty Burns highlights the life and death of Arthur McDuffie, the man who was bludgeoned to death by a group of police officers forty years ago in Miami, Florida. Of the 300+ documentaries I’ve been assigned to watch for this film festival, I cannot stress the importance of this very one. In the height of the BLM movement, it is imperative that we go back and educate ourselves on stories like these, ones that only further prove how corrupt and racist our criminal justice system has been since the very beginning. Stories like these empower us to keep up the fight for the defunding the police system so we can live in an America where anti-blackness no longer exists. There may have been no justice or peace for Arthur McDuffie, but his name MUST be known. -- Haley Copes, NHdocs

When Liberty Burns highlights the life and death of Arthur L. McDuffie. On December 17th, 1979, after failing to stop for a traffic light, police officers gave chase.  After realizing he could not escape, McDuffie surrendered. He was beaten until he lost consciousness. That beating by multiple officers caused his death. Acquittal of the offending officers, charged in the murder sparked a civil disturbance in Miami’s urban core. The “McDuffie Riots” ultimately changed Miami-Dade County and became a symbol of the city’s struggle to contend with race relations and it’s sordid history during the Jim Crow era. The documentary engages family members and friends of Arthur McDuffie, lead detectives, eye witnesses, historians and contemporary community activists in interviews and it chronicles McDuffie’s life and his rich relationships with his family and his community.  When Liberty Burns also examines the context in which Miami developed during this country’s Jim Crow era and traces the dynamics of race relations in the City while also managing increasingly diverse ethnic populations, growth and change.

Director's Bio: Dudley Alexis is an independent filmmaker and visual artist whose passion is bringing to the world little known facts about his native home of Haiti; while also dispelling misconceptions by shedding light on the richness of Haitian culture, and the African Diaspora experience at large. Born in Haiti, Alexis immigrated to the United States in his teens and went on to study fine art in college. He wrote, filmed, directed and edited “Liberty in a Soup”, which he completed in early 2016. This documentary was inspired by a chance encounter with a West African cab driver that questioned Alexis about the fame and significance of Soup Joumou, the national dish of Haiti, which commemorates the island nation’s independence from France. “Liberty in a Soup” was Alexis’ first feature documentary and his previous work includes short documentaries and post-production producer for the Miccosukee Magazine showcasing the life of the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida and other local South Florida issues. He continues to use his art as a tool for social awareness and change. 

  • Year
  • Runtime
    111 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Premiere
    New England Premiere
  • Director
    Dudley Alexis
  • Screenwriter
    Dudley Alexis
  • Producer
    Femi Folami-Browne, Dudley Alexis