Loving v. Virginia was a watershed civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute unconstitutional in 1967. A racially charged criminal trial and a heartrending love story converge in this documentary about the Lovings, an interracial couple who fell in love and married at a tumultuous social and political time in American history, yet nevertheless brought about change where previously no one else could. Through stunning archival footage of the Lovings, the film revisits this public battle through the eyes of a private couple who simply wanted to have the right to get married and live in the place they called home.
Director Nancy Buirski reacquaints us with this famous couple with the same grace and elegance of the soft-spoken but driven Mildred Loving herself, and subsequently breathes vibrant new life into history. Beyond the trials and legal battles, Buirski delicately anchors this inspiring film in an engaging human love story with a timely message of marriage equality, echoing the words of Mildred on the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision: "I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
Tribeca Talks After the Movie (4/27 only): Join director Nancy Buirski, attorney Phil Hirschkop, who represented the Lovings, Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, and David Boies, Chairman of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP as they discuss this landmark case and the current issues surrounding race and marriage equality. Moderated by Orlando Bagwell, director of the Ford Foundation's JustFilms initiative.
Director's Statement Collapse
I chose to tell a true love story to awaken interest in the racial drama of miscegenation buried in civil rights strife of the '60s. Like many such pivotal stories, this one has been surrounded by myth. The real people at the heart of the groundbreaking Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia have never been fully brought to life on the screen.
The crime of miscegenation that forced the Lovings into exile harkens to the founding fathers and underlies many civil rights abuses. If not for fear of diluting bloodlines, there would be no laws against interracial marriage. One must grasp the fundamental fears inherent in anti-miscegenation statues that pervade all segregation, then realize how rarely this is addressed. It is, arguably, the root of racism.
We have the opportunity to expose this powerful truth through the story of Mildred and Richard Loving. But it is not just this message I want to deliver, but a nuanced character study that, I hope, will ignite genuine interest in its morality. Using authentic film footage, photographs and witness narration, we've taken viewers back in time as the Loving story unfolds. Because we are fortunate to have 46-year-old verite´ footage produced by Hope Ryden and unique documentary photographs taken by Grey Villet, we can reveal who these two private people really were and what it was actually like to marry as a mixed-race couple in the Jim Crow South.
Emerging out of a documentary photography tradition, I am inclined to tell a story with the widest lens possible; a film like Nothing But a Man is more an influence than classic civil rights documentaries. In addition to rare footage and photographs, we've uncovered new detail and layers of the Lovings' journey into exile and back and have worked hard to fully immerse viewers in their experience. Allowing our audiences to intimately see, hear and feel our subjects' struggle we hope will create empathy for all groups fighting for marriage equality, as well as for those seeking to eliminate confusion around mixed-race identity. I've chosen to tell this story with its timely message implicitly revealed; I believe this will draw divergent groups to our screenings, ideally reconciling misunderstandings and concerns. My hope is that The Loving Story will act as a talisman for all those engaged in these human rights struggles, and that, ultimately, we will have delivered a poetic and universal perspective on the Lovings' heroic efforts to free all of us to love and marry whom we chose.