Ghosts of Attica
Directed by Brad Lichtenstein • Documentary • With Susan Sarandon • 2001 • 90 minutes
Attica. Like Watergate and Vietnam, it is an icon of recent history. Gov. Rockefeller's brutal re-taking of the prison - a nine-minute, 1600-bullet assault that took the lives of 29 inmates and 10 guards - put an end to the four-day rebellion. But the struggle for justice, by both prisoners and guards, has endured for three decades.
This stirring documentary features extensive interviews with Attica survivors, including former inmate Frank 'Black' Smith. When the riot broke out, the inmates, who respected his level head, imposing size, and maturity, appointed him Chief of Security. After the prison was stormed, Black was singled out for vicious treatment by the guards. Also interviewed is Mike Smith, who, then 22 years old and married with a child, was a guard who was taken hostage and subsequently wounded by police fire. Elizabeth Fink, the attorney who headed the inmates' decades-long legal battles against New York State, is also featured.
GHOSTS OF ATTICA offers the definitive account of America's most violent prison rebellion, its suppression, and the days of torture that ensued.
"GHOSTS OF ATTICA is a truly remarkable recovery of one of the most courageous fights for justice that has ever been waged in the United States. It is a searing and powerful reminder that no matter how much trauma ordinary people may endure, they will not be silenced." —Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy