Watch us celebrate Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the most consequential change agents of our time, and applaud Christine Swanson, storyteller and director of the powerful short film Fannie featuring actor/writer Aunjanue Ellis in riveting testimony on Black voting rights.
Is This America?
Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper who became one of the movement’s most passionate and powerful voices, is the focus of the new film “FANNIE.” Christine Swanson directed the nine-minute film and actor Aunjanue Ellis portrays Fannie Lou Hamer with an equal blend of resolute dignity and simmering rage. Swanson keeps the camera tightly focused on Ellis, whose performance does justice to Hamer’s legacy in a wrenching description of the brutal beatings Hamer endured in a Mississippi jail for daring to register to vote.
The film includes actual audio from Hamer’s testimony before the Democratic National Convention Rules Committee in a quest for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party to be seated at the 1964 convention. Hamer and her comrades boldly took on the all-white Mississippi delegation and the Johnson administration.
The camera rarely moves from Ellis’ face, framed as Hamer was shot in a live television newscast. When the camera does move, it shows the shocked faces of white Democratic Party officials. Viewers of the powerful short film, like the party officials in the archival clips, will be transfixed and unable to look away.
Ellis commands the screen. She ends her bravura performance with the pointed question Hamer demanded of her audience: “Is this America?” Ellis says, “All of this is on account we want to register, to become first-class citizens… Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave …our lives are threatened daily because we want to live as decent human beings in America?”
Oscar-nominated actress Aunjanue Ellis brings to life civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer in a riveting live-action short, FANNIE. FANNIE is produced by Christine Swanson and Aunjanue Ellis. The film is executive produced by Angela Harmon, Abeni Bloodworth, Emil Pinnock, and Stephanie Frederic. Visit www.fannieshortfilm.com.
The Centennial of the 19th Amendment granting women voting rights has been widely (and erroneously) regarded as the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Passage of the Act in 1920 was the culmination of a campaign that began in the mid-1800s. The beneficiaries were mostly White women, uplifted from grinding male patriarchy. With ratification of the 19th Amendment, they aimed to elevate their status, removing the scourge of second-class citizenship. Read more on OWN.