TIFF PRESS CONFERENCE: Shola Lynch talks afros and Angela Davis talks Communism at the Free Angela presser

TIFF PRESS CONFERENCE: Shola Lynch talks afros and Angela Davis talks Communism at the Free Angela presser

(Image: Jemal Countess/Getty Images Entertainment) 

There are few American public intellectuals as recognizable as scholar, activist and former Communist Party USA and Black Panther leader Angela Davis. For one thing, there’s her hair—that’s what initially drew filmmaker Shola Lynch to Davis, anyway. “What I knew of her was the afro,” Lynch remarked at yesterday’s press conference for her doc, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners. “After I did the bare minimum of research, I realized there was a woman behind it. I was interested in finding out how she developed. As I researched that, I realized it was a political crime drama.”

Davis admirers Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith were at the film’s red carpet premiere, but didn’t show at the press conference, which gave Lynch, Davis, and Davis’s niece, Elsa Davis (who plays her aunt in Free Angela’s flashback sequences), a chance to field questions about activism, rebellion and, yes, even the overthrow of capitalism. Taken to task for her Communist beliefs by a Chinese reporter, Davis was characteristically unflappable. “I know that there were serious problems with the modes of Communism that were realized in different countries,” she said. “But I think it’s important that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, or think that just because there were problems with Communism there might not be anything beyond capitalism.” Filmgoers of the world—unite.