Mike Africa Jr., the son of two MOVE members imprisoned for the death of a police officer during a 1978 Philadelphia police raid, spent decades trying to free his parents, a struggle depicted in the documentary “40 Years a Prisoner.” Watch the trailer above.
“When I learned that they were actually in prison, I might have been 13 years old, I started looking for something that would show their innocence,” says Africa Jr. “I wound up doing that for over 25 years.”
The documentary will debut on Tuesday, Dec. 8 on HBO and HBO MAX. “40 years a Prisoner” was an official selection and special presentation of the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
“40 Years a Prisoner” chronicles the 1978 Philadelphia police raid on the radical back-to-nature group MOVE and the aftermath that led to a son’s decades-long fight to free his parents. The documentary illuminates the story of a city grappling with racial tension and police brutality with alarming topicality and modern-day relevance.
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The story centers on Mike Africa Jr., who commits his life to fighting for the release of his parents who he has only known through prison walls. The documentary features eyewitness accounts and archival footage of the escalating tension that results in the controversial confrontation between police and MOVE members.
“40 Years a Prisoner” was directed, produced and shot by Tommy Oliver (“1982”) through his company, Confluential Films, with original music by The Roots. The film was executive produced by Derek Dudley, and Shelby Stone for Freedom Road Productions, John Legend, Mike Jackson, and Ty Stiklorius for Get Lifted Film Co., and Keith Gionet and Adam Platzner for Confluential Films. The film was edited by Joe Kehoe and Tommy Oliver.