Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me
DIRECTOR: Samuel D. Pollard
Q/A with Sam Pollard and Laurence Maslon
PRODUCER: Sally Rosenthal
EDITOR: Steven Wechsler
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Mead Hunt, Allan Palmer
FILMMAKERS’ CHOICE AWARD
Our annual Filmmakers’ Choice Award honors an outstanding documentarian nominated by previous filmmakers. The 2018 award is sponsored by documentary filmmaker Lana Jokel.
An insightful and entertaining portrait of the African-American member of the Rat Pack who broke barriers and shook up representations of race in film and television. The film charts Sammy’s career from his breakout role alongside Ethel Waters in the 1933 short film Rufus Jones for President to his mature years as a musical and movie star. Director Pollard amasses an impressive range of interviewees including Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Lewis and Billy Crystal to recall the life and work of the iconoclastic star. The film illustrates Sammy’s significance in advancing opportunities for Black Americans in film, music and television, but the doc also smartly includes the heavy price that Sammy paid for breaking through the racist walls of the industry.
Samuel Pollard’s professional accomplishments span almost 30 years, beginning in 1989 as a producer on Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads – for one of the episodes in the series he received an Emmy. Eight years later, he received The George Peabody Award as Co-Executive Producer/Producer of the documentary series I'lMake Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community. Pollard also edited a number of Spike Lee's films: Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers and Bamboozled.