From her 2013 directorial debut Gideon’s Army, on the trials of public defenders, to John Lewis: Good Trouble, her 2020 tribute to the late Congressman, Dawn Porter’s documentaries reveal the scope and scale of American injustice while never capitulating to pessimism. Whether focusing attention on the carceral system, abortion access, or voter suppression, her films suggest that the rights guaranteed by the Constitution are upheld through the collective efforts of an earnest, anonymous many. In this interview, Porter reflects on the appeal of contradictory characters, her objective to “disappear” as a documentarian, and the challenges of completing a film during an international pandemic.
The Hidden Labor of Civil Rights: An Interview with Dawn Porter
Eileen G'sell is a poet and culture critic with contributions to the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hyperallergic, VICE, DIAGRAM, Salon, the Boston Review, and other outlets. Her first full-length volume of poetry, Life After Rugby, was published in 2018 by Gold Wake Press, and in 2019 she was nominated for the national Rabkin Foundation award in arts journalism. She teaches at Washington University in St. Louis and for the Prison Education Project at Missouri Eastern Correctional Center.
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Eileen G’Sell; The Hidden Labor of Civil Rights: An Interview with Dawn Porter. Film Quarterly 8 December 2020; 74 (2): 87–94. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fq.2020.74.2.87
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