American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs

Directed by Grace Lee

Documentary Feature | 2013 | United States | 1hr 22min | English

What does it mean to be an American revolutionary today? Grace Lee Boggs was a Chinese American woman in Detroit whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.

The documentary film, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, plunges us into Boggs’s lifetime of vital thinking and action, traversing the major U.S. social movements of the last century; from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, feminism, the Asian American and environmental justice movements and beyond. Boggs’s constantly evolving strategy—her willingness to re-evaluate and change tactics in relation to the world shifting around her—drives the story forward. Angela Davis, Bill Moyers, Bill Ayers, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, Danny Glover, Boggs’s late husband James and a host of Detroit comrades across three generations help shape this uniquely American story. As she wrestled with a Detroit in ongoing transition, contradictions of violence and non-violence, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, the 1967 rebellions, and non-linear notions of time and history, Boggs emerged with an approach that is radical in its simplicity and clarity: revolution is not an act of aggression or merely a protest. Revolution, Boggs says, is about something deeper within the human experience — the ability to transform oneself to transform the world.

As it kinetically unfurls an evolving life, city, and philosophy, American Revolutionary takes the viewer on a journey into the power of ideas and the necessity of expansive, imaginative thinking, as well as ongoing dialectical conversation, to propel societal change.


Director’s Bio

Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker of both fiction and documentary films. Her most recent feature film about the 2012 Presidential campaign, JANEANE FROM DES MOINES, premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Prior to that, she wrote and directed AMERICAN ZOMBIE, which premiered at Slamdance and SXSW before being released by Cinema Libre. She also produced and directed THE GRACE LEE PROJECT, a feature documentary on Asian American identity and stereotypes that was broadcast on Sundance Channel and is distributed by Women Make Movies. Grace received her MFA in Directing from UCLA Film School, where her thesis film BARRIER DEVICE, won a Student Academy Award and Directors Guild of America award. She is the recipient of the Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Digital Media, a Rockefeller Media Arts grant, the PPP Pusan Prize as well as funding from the NEA, Center for Asian American Media, Chicken and Egg Pictures and the Ford Foundation. She is currently producing and directing a documentary for PBS about Asian American food culture.


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