I enjoy watching documentaries, but I rarely review them. This may be because docs are either great or terrible, there really is not in between. This year, on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I was able to watch MLK/FBI (2020) through Woodstock Film Festival. The film discussed topics that I knew nothing about and now I feel well informed and want to learn more.
What is the film about?
MLK/FBI tells the story of the FBI listening in on MLK’s life. Recording phone calls, putting microphones in his rooms and recording his conversations, following him as he traveled, and keeping an eye on him always. The FBI saw him as a threat and this film shows to what extent they were willing to undermine MLK’s privacy, in order to get the information that they wanted.
Tell me more.
The film was directed by Sam Pollard, who is known for many other well regarded films. He was even nominated for an Oscar. I think that the choice to make this film during this time period is very important. I watched an interview of Pollard and he explained how the final shots of this film were done just before the COVID shutdown. Literally, the last shots were filmed the day before everything shut down. All of the editing was done remotely, and I think this is an incredible story that was worth peacefully fighting for. Everything in the film feels so relevant and important for today’s reality.
I would recommend watching this film. It is eye opening, especially if you are like me, and had no idea that the FBI was watching MLK. The film is very interesting for the most part, but sometimes it is slow. However, this is common for historical documentaries because they tend to be loaded with information. Videos, voiceovers, and photos make this film visually intriguing and kept my attention for most of the 104 minute running time.
You can read more about the film on IMDb here.
When Martin Luther King Jr.’s actions interest the FBI, everything he does starts to get monitored by the government, without his knowledge.