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PURE NONFICTION Ep. 40: True South – Jon Else on Henry Hampton & Eyes on the Prize

There wasn't a manual on how to do social justice documentaries. So Jon Else wrote one.

Mar 22, 2017

Eyes on the Prize is a landmark documentary series chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. Debuting on public television in 1987, it remains just as riveting 30 years later. Now the making of the series is covered in a new book called True South by the filmmaker-turned-author Jon Else. He gives a vivid portrait of the pioneering black filmmaker Henry Hampton and the Boston-based company Blackside that created Eyes.

Else has deep roots in this story. As a student in the sixties, he worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer voter registration drive. Else went on to direct the Oscar-nominated documentary The Day After Trinity about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb in 1980. Later, he joined the Blackside team to be a cameraman and series producer for Eyes on the Prize. Else has made other documentaries while teaching at the University of California in Berkeley.

On this episode, Else talks to Thom Powers about the making of Eyes on the Prize and capturing the experience in True South.

True South is published by Viking

Eyes on the Prize is available on DVD and on iTunes

Pure Nonfiction is distributed by the TIFF podcast network.