Announcing Acclaimed Director Sam Pollard as a 2021 Honoree

Middlebury, Vermont. . . The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival is pleased to announce that acclaimed director, editor and producer Sam Pollard will be honored at its 7th Annual Festival with an award for Sustained Vision, Courage and Excellence in Filmmaking. Mr. Pollard will appear at MNFF on Wednesday, August 25 and Thursday, August 26 for the screening of two of his films and extended conversations.  

With a significant career in filmmaking that spans nearly fifty years and over 130 film credits in directing, editing and producing, Sam Pollard has made an indelible mark in the world of historical documentaries. His work has garnered an Academy Award nomination, multiple Emmy Award wins, and dozens of awards at prestigious film festivals around the country. MNFF will be screening his latest film, MLK/FBI, a penetrating overview of the FBI’s relentless efforts to smear and harass the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  

As Eric Kohn writes in IndieWire, “MLK/FBI reveals shocking behavior by the American government, but the most troubling aspect of its revelations is that nobody had to answer for it.” Sam Pollard’s sobering and essential documentary recounts the government’s efforts to blackmail, discredit, and otherwise disempower Martin Luther King, Jr. during the height of the Civil Rights movement, by recording his marital infidelities and wielding them like a blunt weapon.  

“Pollard has constructed an absorbing tale of Black activism challenged by authorities, and built it almost entirely out of the materials of the time, with interviews overlaid as voiceover,” Kohn continues. “Crisp footage ranges from King’s ‘I have a dream’ moment at the Million Man March to countless other rousing speeches, tense White House confrontations, and fragments of phone calls, some of which have only recently been unearthed. The result is a remarkable look at King’s rapid emergence as a celebrity activist and authority figure who managed to grow so powerful that the White House couldn’t afford to ignore his cause.”

“Sam Pollard is a monumental figure in American documentary filmmaking,” said MNFF Artistic Director Jay Craven. “He began his career as a producer on the groundbreaking doc, ‘Eyes on the Prize,’ and his MLK/FBI film adds new dimension to our understanding of Martin Luther King’s distinctive power as a leader and the FBI’s obsessive efforts to thwart him. Pollard’s film could not be more timely as we see widespread efforts, again, to curb vital Black voices advocating social progress. We welcome Mr. Pollard and look forward to the conversations – and films – we will share with our audiences.”