There are few crimes or stories that have had the long lasting and controversial impact that the murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner by journalist turned cab driver Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1981 in Philadelphia has had, which with it’s controversy became a worldwide story that is still heavily talked and reported about because of it’s unique impact and unique PR campaign by Abu-Jamal and his team to prove his innocence (If you follow the news, it is still a lead story now because of Philadelphia DA Seth Williams declining to pursue the death penalty of Abu-Jamal announced last month). Like the story of “The Hurricane” (The real life battle of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, former Middleweight Champion, who was wrongfully convicted for murder and then set free 20 years later), it has gotten involved the opinions and support on both sides of the argument of some of the most powerful and well known names in Hollywood, entertainment, the human rights world, and the political world; some who have looked at Abu-Jamal’s proclamation of innocence as a brilliant PR campaign designed to obscure the truth, while others seeing the blatant guilt of the convicted murderer and the heinousness of the cold blooded crime that he committed. It is a story that has been talked about and dissected by millions of people because of it’s unique underlying tone of race, political motives, and the the celebrity status that Abu-Jamal has achieved as well as the constant campaign of Faulkner’s wife, Maureen, to make sure that Abu-Jamal is never released.
With that being said, who better to do an amazing documentary of the crime and it’s controversy, then acclaimed director, Tigre Hill, who first gained fame in 2006 when he released “The Shame Of A City” (The success of the film and it’s influence discussed below helped Hill gain appearances on TV as well as 5 straight months of references in Philadelphia Magazine and a positive review from The Philadelphia Inquirer), a feature-length documentary that catapulted Hill into the local and national political spotlight. “The Shame Of A City” has been identified as a tool used by reform candidate Michael Nutter in securing election to Philadelphia mayoral office in 2007. The film, independently released in 2006, followed moderate Republican mayoral candidate Sam Katz (Philadelphia) as he unsuccessfully sought to defeat incumbent Democrat John Street in 2003 in a race that made national news when an FBI bug was found in Street’s office. Hill’s film gained widespread attention for exposing many high-ranking Street supporters as disingenuous opportunists who intentionally and falsely manipulated racial tensions and suspicion of President George W Bush‘s administration to get Street re-elected despite a string of corruption indictments in his inner circle that threatened to implicate him directly. After receiving Hill’s endorsement, Nutter himself screened “The Shame of a City” five times to sold-out audiences, using it to raise money and awareness of his opponents’ political techniques. In the primary election of May 2007, Nutter overcame a polling lag to emerge as winner, and easily beat his opponent in the general election.
Here “The King Of Kamelot” sits down with the director of “The Barrel Of A Gun” after it’s latest screening which featured appearances by some of the biggest political/media names in Philadelphia (The movie included on-camera interviews with parties to the controversy including widow Maureen Faulkner; Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell; prosecutor Joe McGill; Philadelphia district attorney Lynne Abraham; Abu-Jamal attorney Robert Bryan; celebrities Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, Danny Glover and Sister Helen Prejean; former Philadelphia police commissioner Sylvester Johnson; Pam Africa, head of The International Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal and close ally of MOVE founder John Africa; author David Horowitz and radio talk show host Michael Smerconish. Investigative journalist Gerald Posner advised on the movie’s production), to discuss the content in the movie), what is thoughts were behind tackling one of Philly’s most famous stories, his pretty clear opinion on the guilt/innocence of Abu-Jamal, his unique pension for controversial subjects, how he would cast me in a movie, and sooo much more..This was such a fun and awesome interview to meet the man (He is a wonderful filmmaker with a super bright future ahead of him) and get more insight into one of the unique stories in Philadelphia’s recent history.