The Five Demands
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 14m
Director(s): Greta Schiller, Andrea Weiss
Where To Watch: for more information, visit www.icarusfilms.com and www.thefivedemandsfilm.com
RAVING REVIEW: In 1969, a group of Black and Puerto Rican students, backed by their white allies, ignited change at the City College of New York (CCNY). In historic Harlem, this prestigious public university witnessed a student movement addressing the widespread racial discrimination in higher education. THE FIVE DEMANDS dives into this influential yet underappreciated rebellion, showcasing the transformative power of grassroots activism. The documentary takes historical footage and contemporary interviews to show the narrative of the students' quest for inclusivity and equal opportunities.
THE FIVE DEMANDS takes us to those pivotal moments of the 1969 student protest, celebrating the tenacity of ordinary people uniting to confront an unjust status quo. While this wasn’t the only protest of its kind, it was arguably the one that tipped the scales, creating the change we hope to protect today. As the nation, unfortunately, anticipates a Supreme Court decision that could threaten affirmative action, the City University of New York's (CUNY) story serves as a stark reminder of the enduring fight for equality.
The creative minds behind this documentary are Greta Schiller and Andrea Weiss of Jezebel Productions. Schiller, an accomplished documentary filmmaker, is renowned for uncovering the untold stories of marginalized groups and incorporating them into a broader cultural context. Her notable works include the Emmy Award-winning BEFORE STONEWALL and the critically acclaimed THE MAN WHO DROVE WITH MANDELA. Her films have graced international film festivals for over 35 years, solidifying her reputation as a prominent independent filmmaker.
Andrea Weiss, Jezebel Productions co-founder, has also made waves with her groundbreaking documentaries. Her latest project, BONES OF CONTENTION, delves into Spain's historical movement and the lesser-known narrative of LGBT repression during Franco's dictatorship. Besides her filmmaking expertise, Weiss is an award-winning non-fiction author with titles like “Paris Was a Woman” and “In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain: The Erika and Klaus Mann Story.”
THE FIVE DEMANDS highlights the unwavering commitment of students who fought for more, not just themselves but future generations. Their efforts, such as occupying campus buildings, organizing marches, and initiating strikes, persisted from April 22nd until the semester's end. The rising tensions among protesters, opponents, and law enforcement eventually resulted in the resignation of CCNY president Buell Gallagher on May 12th. The students' steadfast resolve eventually forced the administration to negotiate and make concessions regarding their demands, paving the way for the Open Admissions policy in the fall of 1970.
THE FIVE DEMANDS presents a captivating look at the student strike that forever changed higher education. As the United States faces the possible rollback of affirmative action, the inspiring tale of the CUNY student movement is a powerful reminder of the value of determination and united effort in pursuing social justice.
With Generation Z turning 18 in the millions each year, followed by the equally powerful Generation Alpha, I see the tides turning in this country. As those in power desperately try to grab power and set laws to take away the rights of millions, it's clear that they fear the change that these two generations will forever make in this country. As the saying goes, “The Children are our future.”
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[photo courtesy of ICARUS FILMS]