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Scottsboro: An American Tragedy (FT)


Powerful Oscar nominated documentary about when fate places people in the wrong place at the wrong time and when fear and suspicion fuel injustice. The once-famous case of the nine Scottsboro Boys is the tale of such a dramatic miscarriage of justice that started in the early 1930s: nine poor young black men, charges of white rape, a fancy New York Jewish defense lawyer, an all-white Alabama jury, sentences of death culminating in a dogged international (Communist inspired) campaign to free the “Scottsboro Boys”.


  • New York Daily News
    Film makers Barak Goodman and Daniel Anker dig deep into the story and its ramifications, exposing how the twin evils of racism and anti-Semitism combined to foment institutional injustice, and led — if a silver lining could be found — to the triumphs of the civil-rights movement two and three decades later.
  • The New York TImes
    The filmmakers know how potent the material is, and they don't hammer away at the obvious. History makes all of their points for them
  • New York Magazine (Vulture)
    The first full-scale documentary about the history of those years, and it lays out lucidly the involvement of the Communist Party in the young men's defense and the ways in which the trials, against the backdrop of the Depression, replayed the murderous quarrels of the Civil War all over again.
  • Village Voice
    Goodman and Anker adroitly shape a cohesive drama out of a complicated history.
  • Joe Leydon, VARIETY
    Utilizing archival material and newly filmed interviews, Goodman and Anker cogently evoke the tenor of the era.
    The climate of Scottsboro during the Great Depression is brought to vivid life by Anker and Goodman's storytelling

Festival Participation

  • Sundance Film Festival, USA - 2000
    Nominated Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary
  • Washington Jewish Film Festival, USA - 2000
    Won Audience Award for Best Documentary
  • Birmingham Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, USA - 2000
    Won Audience Choice Award
  • Urbanworld Film Festival, USA - 2000
  • Emmy Awards, USA - 2001
    Won Emmy Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special
  • Academy Awards, USA - 2001
    Nominated for Oscar for Best Documentary
  • Writers Guild of America, USA - 2002
    Won WGA Award for Best Documentary - Other Than Current Events
  • Organization of American Historians, USA - 2002
    Won Erik Barnouw Award

Additional Materials

Distribution Company

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