Subjects: African American Studies, Race Power and Privilege
“The question is, who owns the rights to the violence of the past? Is it the victim or the perpetrator? ” — Tamara Lanier
FREE RENTY tells the story of Tamara Lanier, an African American woman determined to force Harvard University to cede possession of daguerreotypes of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved man named Renty. The daguerreotypes were commissioned in 1850 by a Harvard professor to "prove" the superiority of the white race. The images remain emblematic of America’s failure to acknowledge the cruelty of slavery, the racist science that supported it and the white supremacy that continues to infect our society today. The film focuses on Lanier and tracks her lawsuit against Harvard, and features attorney Benjamin Crump, author Ta-Nehisi Coates and scholars Ariella Azoulay and Tina Campt.
Official Selection at the 2021 Globe Docs, 2021 Sedona International Film Festival, 2021 Solidarity Human Rights Film Festival, 2021 Omaha Film Festival, 2022 RiverRun International Film Festival, 2022 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, 2022 Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival, 2022 Cleveland International Film Festival, 2022 Brooklyn Film Festival
“A narrative of survival and resolve.” - Hollywood Reporter
About the filmmaker
David Grubin is a director, writer, producer, and cinematographer whose films range across history, art, poetry, and science, winning every major award in his field, including two Alfred I. Dupont awards, three George Foster Peabody prizes, five Writer's Guild prizes, and ten Emmys.
His films include The Trials of Robert Oppenheimer, The Buddha, Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided; LBJ; Truman; TR: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt; FDR, The Secret Life of the Brain, The Jewish Americans, Kofi Annan, Center of the Storm, Tesla, The Mysterious Human Heart, Language Matters with Bob Holman, Degenerate Art, In the Beginning Was Desire.
Grubin has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, has been a Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College, and is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Hamilton College. A former chairman of the board of directors of The Film Forum, he is currently a member of the Society of American Historians, and sits on the board at Poets House. Grubin has taught documentary film producing in Columbia University's Graduate Film Program, and has lectured on filmmaking across the country.