Crandell Theatre presents the riveting 2021 documentary Attica by Emmy® winning director Stanley Nelson and co-director Traci Curry, about the 1971 uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility, on Sunday, January 30 at 1 p.m. followed by a post-film discussion. Panelists include Daniel L. Meyers, the attorney who litigated the “Attica Massacre” for over 25 years, his step-son Jared Reinmuth, an author and co-writer of the graphic memoir, Big Black: Stand at Attica, Jose Pineda III, the executive director of After Incarceration, a Hudson Valley-based restorative justice nonprofit project, and Laurie Scott, director of ReEntry Columbia. Attica was nominated for three Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards including Best Historical or Biographical Documentary, Best Documentary Feature, and Best Director. It was also named Official Selection at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
This free program is produced and created by the Crandell Theatre Board of Directors Community Programming Committee as part of a film and discussion series designed to increase awareness around issues important to the community. Joanne Dunne Murphy, Chair of the committee, is the daughter of the late John R. Dunne. Dunne, a Republican New York State Senator from 1966-1989, was chairman of the legislature’s Committee on Crime and Correction when he accepted the invitation from the Attica prisoners to come into the prison as a negotiator during the uprising. According to the New York Times (January 27, 1990) “Mr. Dunne publicly criticized one of his political heroes, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller, for not visiting the site… [and] continued to insist that if further discussions had taken place, the revolt might have ended peacefully.”
Attica chronicles the infamous 1971 prison rebellion, one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history, which was initiated by prisoners demanding better living conditions. The uprising lasted for five days and left 39 people dead. The documentary is an unnervingly vivid investigation that sheds new light on the enduring violence and racism of the prison system. Survivors, observers, and expert government officials recount the violent five-day standoff between mostly Black and Latino inmates and law enforcement that gripped America then, and the film highlights the urgent, ongoing need for reform 50 years later. The panel discussion will further elaborate on the film, the historic event, and the current state of prison reform from multiple perspectives.
Panelists include Daniel L. Meyers, a retired attorney and former president of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Meyers practiced law for 48 years, specializing in criminal defense, civil and human rights. Known as a “People’s Lawyer,” he championed the rights of the oppressed, supported the abolition of prisons and the death penalty, and instead advocated for a comprehensive restorative justice program. In 1971, just hours before the expiration of a three-year statute of limitations, he served and filed the Attica class action civil rights lawsuit on behalf of more than 1,000 prisoners. With four co-counsel, he litigated the “Attica Massacre” for more than 25 years.
Jared Reinmuth is an author who co-wrote the graphic memoir, Big Black: Stand at Attica (2021 Eisner nominee, Best Reality-based Book) with Frank “Big Black” Smith, a former Attica prisoner. Fifty years ago, Smith, along with other inmates, led the 1971 rebellion against the injustices of the prison system which remains one of the bloodiest civil rights confrontations in American history. Jared is the step-son of Attica Defense Attorney Daniel L. Meyers.
Jose Pineda III is a formerly incarcerated community member living at the intersection of restorative justice and higher education. He works for the Bard Prison Initiative as a student recruitment specialist at the Bard Micro College for Just Community Leadership in Harlem, and is the executive director of After Incarceration, a new nonprofit working to transform the reentry experience with restorative justice.
Leading the discussion is Laurie Scott, director of ReEntry Columbia in Hudson, NY. After graduating from Pace University, Scott began her career in criminal justice by coordinating the college programs at area prisons for Dutchess Community College. She then went on to become a corrections counselor at Green Haven, Sullivan, and Fishkill prisons.
In recognition of concerns about the spread of COVID variants and breakthrough infections, the Crandell Theatre requires all staff and filmgoers, including children over the age of 12, to show proof of full vaccination along with a valid I.D. (can be a school I.D.) for all screenings and events. Masks are required indoors except when seated and seating is automatically socially distanced by the Crandell’s ticketing software. Reservations for free tickets are recommended and may be made at www.crandelltheatre.org
Crandell Theatre is a not-for profit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural vitality of the region through film programming that challenges, inspires, educates, and entertains. The theater is supported by ticket sales and earned revenue, contributions of members and friends, and private and public grants, including the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. In 2017 the Crandell Theatre was listed on the federal and state registers of historic places. For information and film schedules, visit the website, crandelltheatre.org, or call 518.392.3445.