PBS documentary strand “POV” has acquired Jon-Sesrie Goff’s “After Sherman” and Marco Williams’ “Murders That Matter.” Both docus are co-productions with ITVS and will make their national broadcast premieres as part of “POV’s” upcoming 36th season launching in summer 2023.
“After Sherman” is comprised of intimate accounts of the lives of the Black community in Goff’s South Carolina hometown, on land that has been in his family for 150 years, where they were once enslaved. The film explores how systemic racial discrimination and violence have affected generations in the South. “After Sherman,” which is Goff’s feature debut, won the best documentary award at four film festivals in 2022: The Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Tacoma Film Festival, and Fists Up! Film Festival. The docu screened at True/False and Tribeca film fests and was nominated for a 2023 Cinema Eye Honors. Additionally, the film is recipient of the 2022 Gordon Parks Award for Black Excellence at the Tallgrass Film Festival.
“The documentary form allows for nuanced storytelling around issues of race in America,” says Goff. “We cannot make a spectacle of the trauma that has besieged many communities to the point of excluding the joy and beauty in the mundane, despite systemic oppression and the reverberations of centuries-long racial violence in this country. ‘After Sherman’ is my love letter to my parents, my family, community, and all the uncelebrated heroes who preserve the practice of hope and abundance as the cancers of white supremacy and anti-Blackness flourishes.”
He adds: “I’m grateful for ‘POV’s’ support of ambitious innovative documentaries, which allowed me to tell my story without compromise.”
Williams’ “Murders That Matter” documents a Black Muslim mother named Movita Johnson-Harrell, over the course of five years as she transitions from being a victim of trauma and violence into a fierce advocate against gun violence in Black communities of Philadelphia. Williams captures Johnson-Harrell as she transitions from victim of violent trauma into a fierce advocate against it during a five-year period.
“This story is of immense importance to me,” says Williams. “I know first-hand the pain and invisibility of murder in the African American community. Two members of my family were murdered in the Philadelphia neighborhood where ‘Murders That Matter’ takes place. Tragically, a story of violence in the family is probably not uncommon for many African American families. Someone murdered, almost always at the hands of another Black person. Yet how often is this fact spoken about within families, in the black community, and/or in society at large? If we are not willing to confront the conditions that yield cycles of violence in African American communities, there cannot be any healing from the trauma.”
Erika Dilday, executive director at American Documentary and executive producer at “POV” and America ReFramed adds: “At American Documentary, we are always eager to amplify independent artists who care deeply and take creative risks. Working with bold filmmakers Jon-Sesrie Goff and Marco Williams, who use their gifts of storytelling to share personal accounts that offer unique insights into American culture, not only validates their experiences as valuable, it also might open the minds and hearts of others to points of views they never considered.”
The “After Sherman” deal was negotiated by Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary, “POV,” along with David Eisenberg, Tamara Gould and Kevin Wong for ITVS. White and Dilday also negotiated the “Murders That Matter” deal with Eisenberg, Gould and Erica Dixon for ITVS.