Nearly a decade after birthing the idea to do a movie about the story of Willie Grimes, filmmaker and North Carolina A&T State University alumnus Michael Anthony screened “Walls That Bleed: The Story of the Dudley-A&T Student Uprising” during the school’s Homecoming last week.
“This is the second time this movie is being screened on campus. The first time was in 2008,” Anthony said. “The 2008 version and the new version are two totally different pieces.”
“Walls That Bleed” is a documentary that tells the story of the most successful student-led uprising in the nation’s history. In May 1969, college students and Vietnam veterans defended their campus against the city’s police department and 650 National Guardsmen in a three-day gun battle.
The uprising was the result of a mishandled Student Council election at an all-black high school. One life was lost; Willie Grimes’ death has become the oldest cold case in the history of the city of Greensboro.
“Initially, I wanted to do it as a feature-length film but that would have cost millions and millions of dollars,” Anthony said. “Doing the documentary, you don’t need as much money.”
For the first version of the movie, Anthony saved $50,000 of his own money over five years. Production took him approximately four months. The first time he screened the movie, it was without the archival footage.
“I couldn’t afford the archived footage, so the first version focused mainly on A&T and was done with interviews of the people who lived it,” Anthony said.
The new version of the movie highlights N.C. A&T’s activist movements from 1960-69 to give viewers a better understanding.
“When I show the film, people who were here during that time know the A&T side but not the Dudley side. People from Dudley didn’t know the A&T side,” he said.
Anthony’s hope for the film is to expose more people to this bit of history.
“If we don’t get this history now, it’s going to go away,” Anthony said. “Black history is encapsulated in the people. My documentary comes from the mouths of the people who were there.”
While Anthony has been able to raise the funds to include archival footage in the new version of the movie, he is still raising money to secure the necessary rights to begin pitching the documentary to television networks.
“We have created a Kickstarter campaign where people can donate,” Anthony said.
Visitors to the web site will be able to view snippets of the interviews that didn’t make it into the documentary. Anthony shot more than 700 hours of video footage that he condensed to 109 minutes.
This year, the film has been accepted into the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Documentary in the HBO/CNN category and the Peachtree Village International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Feature, Best Documentary and Best HBCU Story.
The film has also been accepted into the Englewood Film Festival in Chicago and it will be screened on Oct. 27. He has already been in contact with the Chicago alumni chapter.
“I’m hoping that those Aggies in Chicago who won’t be able to make it to Homecoming will be able to come to the screening and we can make that a ‘home away from home’ celebration,” Anthony said.
For more information, go to HYPERLINK “http://www.wallsthatbleedthemovie.com” www.wallsthatbleedthemovie.com.