Recy Taylor, a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama. Common in Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice.
Our film exposes a legacy of physical abuse of black women and reveals Rosa Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story. An attempted rape against Parks was but one inspiration for her ongoing work to find justice for countless women like Taylor. The 1955 bus boycott was an end result, not a beginning.
More and more women are now speaking up after rape. Our film tells the story of black women who spoke up when danger was greatest; it was their noble efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and movements that followed. The 2017 Global March by Women is linked to their courage. From sexual aggression on ‘40s southern streets to today’s college campuses and to the threatened right to choose, it is control of women’s bodies that powered the movement in Recy Taylor’s day and fuels our outrage today.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Nancy Buirski: Director, Producer, and Writer
THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR
Nancy Buirski is the Director/Producer/Writer of THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR that recently had its World Premiere at the Venice Film Festival and will have its North American Premiere at the New York Film Festival this October. It was awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Special Prize for Human Rights this year at the 74° Venice Biennale. Buirski is the Director/Producer/Writer of BY SIDNEY LUMET (2015) that had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. She Produced/Directed/Wrote AFTERNOON OF A FAUN (2013), World Premiere at the 51st New York Film Festival, International Premiere at the 64th Berlinale and record-breaking U.S theatrical release by Kino Lorber. She is Director/Producer/Writer of the Oscar shortlisted, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning THE LOVING STORY (2012). She is a Producer of LOVING by Jeff Nichols. She is directing ENDANGERED, an animated feature based on Eliot Schrefer’s YA novel and will direct a narrative version of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN.
Buirski is a member of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences. She founded and ran the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. She is the photographer and author of EARTH ANGELS: MIGRANT CHILDREN IN AMERICA.
I’m often asked why I, as a white filmmaker, chose subjects dealing with race. A black female director will have a very special take on the story of a black woman raped in 1944. That story will be told differently than the way I tell it; I don’t live in a black woman’s skin. But I believe these stories should be told again and again, and that there may be value in my difference. Race is The American Story; as a white person I inherit complicity in what happened to African-Americans in our country. Recent events in Charlottesville and elsewhere are tragic outgrowths of white supremacy palpable in both our film and my earlier film The Loving Story; it powers the oppression and hatred in both. Those boys who raped Recy Taylor inherited it, and the unequal justice system that twice allowed the rapists to go free is its legacy. If there were ever a responsibility for one to tell these stories - white and black filmmakers – it is now. I am passionate about conveying them - compelled by empathy and responsibility and a need to expose a shameful history.
We were very fortunate to have the extraordinary testimonies of Recy Taylor’s brother and sister. Their lucid account of their sister`s rape as well as of life in Alabama in the 40s and 50s with their measured but emotional narrations add immediacy; their slow but firm cadences inform the film’s rhythm and serve as the film’s backbone. Without them, I could not have made this film.
But as I did my research, I came upon a wealth of other sources that shaped my narrative and helped to animate Recy Taylor`s personal story. Particularly enlightening for me were the scenes from so-called “race films” that in their day provided an African- American perspective on life in the US completely absent from white mainstream movies. In some cases they depict the sexual predation of white men on black women with surprising frankness. They might be new to many viewers and are fascinating documents in themselves. We have rare footage of Rosa Parks who supported Recy Taylor’s uphill battle for justice in a skewed and bigoted legal system. There are newspaper articles in the black press that drove her story up to New York, and interviews with activists and experts whose insights were invaluable.
Music also became very important while I was work- ing on the film. The extraordinary songs of African- American popular tradition, some sang by the activist Fannie Lou Hamer, serve as a thread that ties the material together.
The relationship between Rosa Parks and Recy Taylor is the heartbeat of our story. Mrs. Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story reveals a life different from our collective memory of Parks, a mythology that belies her true nature as determined activist. Rosa Parks was not just a tired seamstress when she refused to change her seat on the bus, but a committed activist and secretary for the Montgomery NAACP while also sew- ing clothes for whites. We recently discovered a letter from Parks describing an attempted rape she fought off, using the power of persuasion. It’s likely one inspiration for her ongoing work to restore black women’s bodily integrity, work that consumed her for years. The bus boycott was the end result, not the beginning!
Increasing numbers of people are willing to confront our past in order to understand our present. We’re moving faster in the slow process of ‘tearing’ down historical commemorations of oppressors; our film is a part of the replacement, the more honorable and appropriate re-telling of the truth of our past. THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR invites others to join the retelling of our history with greater affinity and truth- fulness. While our film is about a specific historical episode, clearly this episode is terribly relevant today.
It took 70 years, but Recy Taylor won her fight with an official apology about the inadequacy of the official response to the crimes against her. But the film is a reminder that much remains to be done, and much remains unresolved. Our hope is that THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR is a bullhorn – that it ignites others to tell this story, too, some who may be closer to the experience. Their stories will be deeper, resonate in new, revealing ways and attract more unconverted by their immediacy and authenticity. Those new to it will feel its utter commonality because of its human, truthful detail. We will have been honored to set the stage for the ongoing discus- sion and exposé of a story of rape in the Deep South.
Director’s Complete Filmography
- The Loving Story
- Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq
- By Sidney Lumet
- The Rape of Recy Taylor
Barbara Dobkin: Executive Producer
Barbara Dobkin former chair of the AJWS board of trustees and chair of the executive committee, is a funder, activist and leader in the social justice arena. With a particular focus on the advancement of women in all sectors of society, she is a preeminent and visionary creator of programs that serve women and girls and that encourage women of means to play a significant role as independent philanthropists. She was the co-founder of Mayan, the Jewish Women’s Project of the JCC in Manhattan, the founding chair of the Jewish Women’s Archive, the founding chair of the Hadassah Foundation and a founding board member of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community. Barbara has served on the boards of the New Israel Fund, Lilith Magazine, the Women Donors Network, the Jewish Funders Network, the Women’s Funding Network and American Friends of the Israel Women’s Network, among others. Presently, she chairs the board of the Dafna Israeli Fund in Israel. She has been recognized for her philanthropic work by several organizations including the Council on Foundations and the New York Women’s Foundation. In 2000 the Jewish Funders Network awarded her the Sidney Shapiro Tzedakah Award for her creative and innovative grant making .
CarolAnne Dolan: Executive Producer
CarolAnne is an Emmy-Award-winning executive producer who has a diverse background in factual programming. She’s worked in genres including social justice, history and investigative docs, reality, pop culture, biography, wildlife and adventure, and on subject matter as diverse as shark attacks, crime bosses and poverty in America. She has worked on both sides of the business – as a network executive, garnering high ratings and awards, and on the production side creating successful programs for major cable networks. Prior to joining Transform Films, CarolAnne was executive producer at NHNZ in New Zealand, where she created shows for National Geographic Channel, Bio Channel, Animal Planet and Discovery, among others. She was Vice President of Documentary series at A&E Television and also served as executive producer of the Biography series. During her tenure at Biography, the series won numerous awards, including 2 Emmys, and was consistently the highest rated series on the network. CarolAnne began her TV career at National Geographic Television, working on the weekly series Explorer.
Geralyn Dreyfous: Executive Producer
Geralyn Dreyfous has a wide, distinguished background in the arts, extensive experience in consulting in the philanthropic sector, and participates on numerous boards and initiatives. She is the Founder and Board Chair of the Utah Film Center, a non-profit that curates free screenings and outreach programs for communities throughout Utah. In 2007, she co-founded Impact Partners Film Fund with Dan Cogan, bringing together financiers and filmmakers so that they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives, and ignite social change. Since its inception, IP has been involved in the financing of over 70 films. In 2013, Geralyn became a founding member of Gamechanger, the first for-profit film fund dedicated exclusively to financing narrative features directed by women. Geralyn's independent executive producing and producing credits include the Academy Award winning Born Into Brothels; Emmy nominated The Day My God Died, Academy Award nominated and Emmy Award winning The Square, Academy Award nominated and Peabody Award winning The Invisible War, and multiple film festival winners such as Miss Representation, Meet the Patels, Anita, In Football We Trust, The Hunting Ground, Dreamcatcher, Alive Inside, Bending the Arc and STEP. Her works in production include: Wait for Me and Be Natural. Geralyn was honored by the International Documentary Association with the Amicus Award in 2013 for her significant contribution to documentary filmmaking. Variety recognized Geralyn in their 2014 Women’s Impact Report highlighting her work in the entertainment industry.
Laurens L. Grant: Consulting Producer
Laurens Grant is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the Documentary Branch and a 3-time Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker. Additionally, Grant is a Sundance Institute filmmaker fellow, and has had 3 films premiere at the prestigious Sundance film festival. Grant joins Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog, the award-winning team behind CNN’s “decades” series, for their next installment on The Nineties. Grant is one of the producer- directors on the 7-part series. Grant’s episodes tackle race and politics in Can We All Get Along? and the George H. W. Bush presidency in New World Order. Grant directed the documentary Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement which received an NAACP Image Award nomination for outstanding news special. The film aired on BET and Jesse Williams of Grey’s Anatomy is Executive Producer. The film is scheduled to premiere in London at the British Urban Film Festival in September 2017. Grant produced the Peabody and Emmy-nominated documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, which premiered at Sundance and played in theaters worldwide. The film influenced the Hollywood film The Stand Off to be directed by Justin Lin of Star Trek Beyond and Fast and Furious fame. Grant also directed the Emmy-winning documentary Jesse Owens, the first full-length documentary about the African-American Olympian’s 4-gold medal wins at the 1936 Olympics. The film influenced the Hollywood movie Race with Jeremy Irons and William Hurt. Grant also produced the Peabody and 3-time Emmy winning documentary Freedom Riders which influenced the Hollywood films Selma and Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Grant has also directed short films for NGOs on the bail system in America; inner city American high schools; and educational programs in Haiti and the Somali region of Ethiopia.
Derrick Harkins: Executive Producer
Currently, Derrick Harkins serves as Senior Vice President for Innovation in Public Programs at Union Theological Seminary. Where he develops programming aimed primarily at those not enrolled in Union’s degree programs. This includes continuing and online education, public events, and the work of the institutes and initiatives housed at Union. Most recently, these initiatives have included outreach about LGBT public policy and intersectionality issues, Islamophobia, and reentering citizens. Harkins previously served as Senior Pastor at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington DC, as well as Directorof Faith Outreach for the Democratic Party and advisor to President Obama. Harkins was also Vice President with the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance, and has been a guest lecturer on the church and social action at a number of colleges and universities including Bucknell, Cornell, Iona College, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC and NPR. An active voice in the debate for immigration reform, he has worked closely with the Immigration Policy Center, and Esperanza for America to expand the combined immigration reform efforts of the African American and Hispanic communities. He has preached and been extensively engaged in relief and development work in Rwanda, Burkina Faso, and Jamaica. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors for World Relief, Faith in Public Life, and Sojourners.
Indira M. Henard, MSW: Consultant
Executive Director, The DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC). Ms. Henard has been with the DC Rape Crisis Center for the last ten years serving in different capacities, lending invaluable experience including leadership roles in fundraising, operations, cultivating relationships and strategic partnerships, as well as coalition building. Ms. Henard’ s direct service experience in many gender-based violence programs has helped to inform her policy analysis that has led to coordinating public policy initiatives and organizing and planning spaces for survivor led advocacy. Spanning over 20 years of dedicated service in the violence against women's movement, Ms. Henard’ s experience exemplifies her expertise in non-profit management, organizational development, education, training, fundraising and public policy. She has worked nationally and internationally in helping organizations build capacity to respond to the needs of sexual violence in their communities. Most recently, she has expanded her work international to include providing training and technical assistance to local nonprofits, and NGO’s oversees in building capacity and infrastructure to respond to gender based violence. Ms. Henard holds a Masters of Social Work degree from the National Catholic School of Social Service at the Catholic University of America. Additionally, Ms. Henard has deep ties within the policy sector having served as a Ralph Bunche Institute Fellow at Duke University, a Congressional Truman Fellow on Capitol Hill, and a Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow at Georgetown Law Center. Before joining DCRCC, Ms. Henard served as a Senate Aide for Senator Barack Obama D-IL on Capitol Hill, Capitol Hill, as well as Special Assistant on his Presidential Campaign. Ms. Henard was most recently awarded the national Victim Impact Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.
Beth Hubbard: Producer
Beth Hubbard(Producer) TV/Film Producer Beth Hubbard’s career began at The Mount Company in production on Bull Durham and Tequila Sunrise. As an executive, she supervised Sean Penn’s directorial debut, Indian Runner starring Vigo Mortensen and Patricia Arquette. As an independent producer Hubbard produced RITUAL starring Clarence Williams and Denise Nicholas (Ventura Films), Woo starring Jada Pinkett (New Line Cinema) and Runteldat starring Martin Lawrence (MTV/Paramount). She went on to produce a series of reality specials entitled Almost Famous for TV 1 and Executive Produced the APT animated series, The Zula Patrol. She recently completed production on the documentary entitled The Rape of Recy Taylor which just debuted at the Venice and New York Film Festivals. Hubbard is currently shooting the definitive documentary on Arthur Ashe and producingWallis Annenberg’s production of Turn Me Loose starring Joe Morton.
Bobby Kondrat: Executive Producer
Bobby Kondrat has over 15 years experience in both film and TV, having overseen the post production of dozens of TV series including the hit series Lip Sync Battle. He is currently the VP of Post Production for the content studio Matador through which he also Executive Produced Nancy Buirski’s By Sidney Lumet, the 2017 Sundance film Give Me Future and the upcoming I Love Cecil.
Susan Margolin: Producer
Susan Margolin has built a reputation as a pioneer of digital distribution and a dedicated supporter of independent filmmakers and of the filmmaking community. Through Docurama, a subsidiary of New VIdeo group, Margolin championed more than 400 award-winning non-fiction films, from Academy Award nominees including Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War, Joe Berlinger’s Paradise Lost trilogy, Danfung Dennis’ Hell and Back Again and D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back, to name a few. Margolin and her partner Steve Savage sold New Video/Docurama Films to Cinedigm (NASDAQ CIDM) in 2012. As Co-President of Cinedigm Entertainment Group, Margolin released critically acclaimed independent films including Daniel Destin Crettin’s Short Term 12, Penny Lane’s Our Nixon, Kelly Reichert’s Night Moves, and Godfrey Reggio’s The Visitors. After leaving Cinedigm, Margolin launched St. Marks Productions, a production and distribution company. She recently produced award-winning filmmaker Nancy Buirski’s feature documentary, The Rape of Recy Taylor, and served as Executive Producer on Cheryl Miller Houser and Cynthia Wade’s film Generation Startup. Margolin currently serves on the board of directors of BAFTA NY, Chicken & Egg Pictures and the Hamptons Documentary Film Festival, and on the advisory board of New York Women in Film and Television. She was honored in 2012 by the Producers Guild of America as one of the “Digital 25: Leaders in Emerging Entertainment.”
Danielle L. McGuire, PhD: Consultant
Danielle L. McGuire, PhD is an award-winning author and historian of racial and sexual violence. Her first book, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape and Resistance–a New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (Knopf) won the Frederick Jackson Turner Award and the Lillian Smith Award. She is the editor with John Dittmer of Freedom Rights: New Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement and is currently at work on a book, to be published by Knopf, about the murder of three black teenagers at the Algiers Motel during the 1967 Detroit rebellion. McGuire is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians and has appeared on National Public Radio, BookTV, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC. She lives with her husband and two children in metro Detroit. Find her at www.daniellemcguire.com
Sam Pollard: Consulting Producer
Sam Pollardis an accomplished feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director whose work spans almost thirty years. His first assignment as a documentary producer came in 1989 for Henry Hampton's Blackside production Eyes On The Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads. For one of his episodes in this series, he received an Emmy. Eight years later, he returned to Blackside as Co-Executive Producer/Producer of Hampton's last documentary series I'll Make Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community. For the series, Mr. Pollard received The George Peabody Award. Between 1990 and 2010, Mr. Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee's films: Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. As well, Mr. Pollard and Mr. Lee co-produced a number of documentary productions for the small and big screen: Spike Lee Presents Mike Tyson, a biographical sketch for HBO for which Mr. Pollard received an Emmy, Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1963 Birmingham church bombings which was nominated for an Academy Award and When The Levees Broke, a four part documentary that won numerous awards, including a Peabody and three Emmy Awards. Five years later 2010 he co-produced and supervised the edit on the follow up to Levees, If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise. Since 2012 Mr. Pollard has completed as a producer/director Slavery By Another Name, a 90-minute documentary for PBS that was in competition at the Sundance Festival, August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, a 90-minute documentary in 2015 for American Masters, Two Trains Runnin’, a feature length documentary in 2016 that premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival also in 2017 The Talk: Race in America for PBS and CPB. His latest film Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me for American Masters premiering at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.
Regina K. Scully: Executive Producer
Regina K. Scully is the Founder and CEO of Artemis Rising Foundation, a philanthropic organization dedicated to developing and promoting Media, Education and the Arts that transform our culture. Ms. Scully is also the Founder and CEO of RPR Marketing Communications, a premier Public Relations Agency, NYC, specializing in exclusive consumer products and brands. A social entrepreneur, media activist, and documentary filmmaker, Ms. Scully is a leading communications and media consultant, speaking at schools, conferences, and companies around the world. Ms. Scully is a five-time Emmy Award-winning and Academy-nominated producer of The Invisible War, the powerful 2012 film about the epidemic rapes of women and men in the military. She has also produced upwards one hundred documentary films, shining a light on some of the most challenging social issues of our time. Some of her powerful films include: Fed Up, Newtown, Dreamcatcher, Prophet’s Prey, Alive Inside, Miss Representation, Under the Gun, Audrie & Daisy, Hazing, Resilience, The Mask You Live In, Trapped, Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power, and Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise.
Jacquelyn Days Serwer: Consultant
Jacquelyn Days Serwer is an American art historian and curator. A specialist in American art and African American art, she is currently the Chief Curator of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Nick Stuart: Executive Producer
Nick Stuart is a former BAFTA judge and TV reporter turned Producer who created New York based “Transform Films” ( http://www.transformfilmsinc.com/ ) to specialize in character-led documentary programing that can inspire and move people to build a more just and compassionate world. After a career in television that took him from war zones, apartheid South Africa and the sectarian battlegrounds that were the streets of Belfast, making programs for the BBC, Discovery , National Geographic and Al Jazeera English, he set up Transform Films to work with leading independent documentary film makers making films that would challenge and inspire and help drive impact campaigns to help deliver the changes needed to make a more just world. Films on the Transform Film’s production and co-production roster include Lisa Cohen’s Serving Life that was made with Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker, Kim Snyder’s Newtown that premiered in competition at Sundance in 2016 and now Nancy Buirski’s powerful new film The Rape of Recy Taylor that has it world premier at this year’s Venice International Film Festival.
Dr. Amy Tiemann: Executive Producer
Dr. Amy Tiemann is the President of Spark Productions and co-owner of Manifold Recording, a world-class media production studio in Pittsboro, North Carolina. As an award-winning author, educator and media producer, Dr. Tiemann brings informed insights to each of her varied projects. Her Executive Producer credits include the acclaimed documentary Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (2016), the previously untold story of all 18 pioneering African-American team USA athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin; and the forthcoming doc Overland (2018) a soaring, cross-cultural film about the art of falconry. As a scientist, Tiemann earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University. Her background includes years of cutting-edge brain research as well as extensive high school and university-level classroom teaching experience. Tiemann has been a passionate, lifelong advocate for human rights and equality, with a specific mission of reducing childhood trauma and eliminating sexual assault in all forms. She is a nationally-recognized expert on personal safety for people of all ages and is co-authoring the book Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels of Society (2018) with the Founder of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a global nonprofit leader in personal safety education. Tiemann’s interest in personal safety and self-development extends to martial arts; she is a black belt practitioner of to-shin do ninjutsu. Each of these areas of expertise informs Dr. Tiemann’s perspective as an executive producer.
Mark Trustin: Executive Producer
Mark is an attorney in Durham, North Carolina, dedicated to justice in education and civil rights. He is relatively new to the world of film, but, as a partner in the film company, Crystal City Entertainment, he has invested in several critically acclaimed productions, and another will shortly be in pre-production with Mark as Executive Producer. Mark and his wife, Dr. Marcia Angle, are socially, politically and philanthropically active in the areas of education, social justice, and the environment.
Jack Turner: Executive Producer
Jack Turner has been a development and production executive for over 17 years. The library of films that he has been involved with has garnered 2 Emmy nominations, 20 Golden Globe nominations and 26 Academy Award nominations - including four for Best Picture. He is currently the SVP of Scripted and Documentary Content for Matador.
More team members will be added soon. Please check back for the latest updates.