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A Crime on the Bayou

A Crime on the Bayou is the story of Gary Duncan, a Black teenager from Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans.

In 1966, Duncan tries to break up an argument between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He gently lays his hand on a white boy’s arm. The boy recoils like a snake. That night, police burst into Duncan’s trailer and arrest him for assault on a minor.

A young Jewish attorney, Richard Sobol, leaves his prestigious D.C. firm to volunteer in New Orleans. With his help, Duncan bravely stands up to a racist legal system powered by a white supremacist boss to challenge his unfair arrest. Their fight goes all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Duncan and Sobol’s lifelong friendship is forged.

'Vivid...Provide[s] an unusually palpable sense of just how much deeply-ingrained institutional and cultural bias needed to be overcome for the civil rights movement to make real headway...[An] engrossing, flavorful document.' Dennis Harvey, Variety

'A Crime on the Bayou never explodes with fury. But that doesn't mean you won't feel enraged while taking in the maddening series of systematic wrongs committed against Sobol and Duncan.' Robert Daniels, The Los Angeles Times

'Thoughtful and illuminating...Shines a light on a groundbreaking piece of recent American history that will be news to many viewers.' Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

'Filmmaker Nancy Buirski has an elegant, judicious way of imparting the facts of the case, taking not just the political temperature of the moment (boiling) but finely sketching the character and minds of the people involved. 4 out of 4 stars.' Steven Boone, Roger Ebert

'Buirski follows the case with cogency and clarity, illuminating its implications and putting it in the perspective of Black and white alliances in the struggle for Civil Rights.' Peter Keough, The Boston Globe

'It has a potent idea, which is to show how even bureaucratic aspects of the legal system in the Deep South in the 1960s could be weaponized against Black Americans.' Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

'Must-see...A Crime on the Bayou focuses on an incident that happened in 1966 but is, infuriatingly, still timely and relevant more than half a century later.' Lois Alter Mark, Alliance of Women Film Journalists

'Buirski has assembled an impressive set of historical sources but allows the story to unfold so naturally that it feels as if it were being told for the first time...The issues at the heart of this film remain very much alive today.' Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

'The film sharply illustrates the pervasive character of systemic racism that allows one person to use his position in society to tangle another in a web that can trap him for a lifetime.' Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

'Tells a powerful, important story, the reverberations of which still linger.' Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media

'Essential...An urgent, exceptionally well told chronicle of an important but often forgotten moment in American history.' Sean Patrick, Vocal

'Topical and gripping...Given current events, rarely has a film felt so essential.' Mike Scott, Times-Picayune

'Very well-made...An essential piece to think about the United States of America - how it was and why it is like it is today.' Leticia Magalhaes, Cine Suffragette

'If you want to look at this national conversation about systemic racism, this is a nice demonstration of where it manifests.' Kevin Carr, Fat Guys at the Movies

'Documentarian Nancy Buirski deploys a delicate cinematic elegance to tell Duncan's tale.' MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

'Eloquently draws out the heroism of ordinary extraordinary Americans...5 out of 5 stars.' Thelma Adams, AARP

'I strongly recommend A Crime on the Bayou...The story it tells is about a key moment in the fight against Jim Crow, and it tells it well.' Louis Proyect, The Unrepentant Marxist

'A good, straightforward documentary.' Peter Rainer, FilmWeek

'True and disturbing...Shocking...A Crime on the Bayou shines a light on race relations in the U.S....It's a story about persistence and vigilance in the face of the uglier side of humanity.' Peter Martin, Screen Anarchy

'Incredible story...A real life head-on collision between good and evil.' David Ferguson, Red Carpet Crash

'Fascinating...A very different documentary on race and hate in the 1960s. Normally, we are shown stories of illegal incarceration, pain and suffering...Could we have here a story of the carriage of justice?' Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews

'Does a good job in balancing the legal, the political and the personal in the telling of its story.' Peter Canavese, Celluloid Dreams

'The modern day comparisons are clear and Duncan and Sobol's quest for justice - no matter what threats they faced - is utterly inspiring.' Mary Palmer, Jumpcut Online

'The documentary...serves as a wake-up call: the time of Jim Crow really isn't that far in the past.' Kent Turner, Film-Forward

'A powerful, important story...The movie's message of tolerance is righteously clear, and sadly timely.' Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid

'Artful...This is another overlooked chapter of great significance in US race relations, one that Buirski tells with an engrossing, flavorful mix of archival materials and testimony from the still-living protagonists themselves.' Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

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Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African-American Studies
American Democracy
American Studies
Citizenship and Civics
Civil Rights
Film Studies
Human Rights
Race and Racism
Social Justice
Social Psychology


african american history; african american studies; racism; racial justice; legal history; legal studies; american south; civil rights; civil rights movement; civil rights history; american studies; american history; richard sobol; gary duncan; hidden history; white supremacy; new orleans; louisiana; "A Crime on the Bayou"; Bullfrog Films

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