Cinematographer Ashley O’Shay makes her feature directorial debut with “Unapologetic,” screening as part of the DOC NYC series.
The documentary is shortlisted in the Best Feature category by the International Documentary Association and follows two young Black women organizing for Black political, economic, and social liberation through a calendar year of triumphs and necessary forfeits.
The story of “Unapologetic” is told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders. O’Shay takes a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
“I hope ‘Unapologetic’ inspires viewers to meet the movement where they’re at. At such a hallmark time in the conversation around policing and brutality in our country, it is crucial for communities to investigate how they can best serve the movement, and recognize what Black grassroots organizations have already taken the lead,” says O’Shay.
The film, which started production in 2015, provides a very recent history of the Movement for Black Lives. “The film serves as a blueprint on how to effectively create dialogue and change around defunding the policing, abolition, and community resource control,” she says.
Morgan Elise Johnson, who served as a producer on the documentary adds, “‘Unapologetic” is a historic document and love letter to the Movement for Black Lives and Black women organizers. History teaches us that progressive leaders and truth-tellers are usually not praised in their time — just look at John Lewis, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer and on and on.” She continues, “I hope this film uplifts those who are doing the challenging work of tearing down anti-Black systems and reimagining our society today. I also hope the film helps to demystify who Black Lives Matter organizers are. This isn’t coming out of the Black church nor is there a singular Black man figurehead or ‘savior.’ Black women in Chicago and across this country are building community, reshaping public policies, and offering a feminist view of public safety that deserves our attention.”
The documentary is currently on the festival circuit.
Watch the trailer below: