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ABC News Studios Announces ‘Sound of the Police,’ A New Documentary Directed By Stanley Nelson And Valerie Scoon

Posted Jul 31, 2023

ABC News Studios announced today “Sound of the Police,” the new Hulu Original documentary directed by Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Stanley Nelson and co-directed by Valerie Scoon. Produced by Firelight Films for ABC News Studios, the feature-length documentary, which will have a special preview screening at the BlackStar Film Festival followed by its official world premiere at the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, will begin streaming Friday, Aug. 11, only on Hulu.

“Sound of the Police” examines the fraught relationship between African Americans and the police, often rife with tension, fear, suspicion, and hostility on all sides. Framed by some of the most recent conflicts between Black Americans and police officers, which garnered national media attention, the film traces the country’s complex racial history that set the path for policing in Black communities and fuels the ongoing conflict between African American communities and law enforcement.

From the origins of the first police forces in the South during slavery to the mob violence that erupted against African Americans in the North after the great migration to the more recent high-profile cases forever etched in America’s collective conscience, “Sound of the Police” tells the story of a troubled, complex and volatile relationship and exactly how the country got here. The documentary also looks at contemporary efforts to confront and resolve that conflict.

“This film couldn’t be more timely, but it also closely connects to much of the history that I’ve explored in my past work – from the Civil War-era slave patrols, the advent of Jim Crow at the turn of the century, the uprisings against police brutality in the latter half of the 20th century to the many acts of police violence against African Americans that we’ve witnessed in the media in recent times,” said Nelson. “We’re thrilled to partner with ABC News Studios on this important project and look forward to sharing and discussing the film with audiences.”

“It’s been a rewarding experience working with Stanley and Firelight Films on this project,” said Scoon. “While much of my work as a director and producer has engaged with African American history, this film is particularly personal. Stanley and I are both parents of young adults, and that perspective has informed the importance we place on examining the history of the relationship between law enforcement and the Black community. We hope this film will inspire conversations that will save lives and build stronger communities.”

“It is an honor for ABC News Studios to be working with incredible storytellers Stanley Nelson and Valerie Scoon,” said Mike Kelley, head of ABC News Studios. “They have an unparalleled ability to detail the lives of Black Americans as they do so thoughtfully in their examination of the complex relationship with law enforcement in ‘Sound of the Police.'”

Nelson is a leading documentarian of the African American experience. His films combine compelling narratives with rich historical detail to shine new light on the under-explored American past. He has received a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, five Primetime Emmy Awards, and lifetime achievement awards from the Television Academy and IDA. In 2013, Nelson received the National Medal in the Humanities from former President Obama. Some projects he has directed include “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” “Freedom Riders,” “Freedom Summer,” “The Murder of Emmett Till,” and “Attica” which earned Nelson a DGA Award and an Oscar nomination.

Scoon is an award-winning producer and filmmaker. Her most recent documentary, “Invisible History: Middle Florida’s Hidden Roots,” was broadcast nationally through American Public Television and won the 2021 Suncoast Regional Emmy for Best Historical Documentary. In addition to her independent documentary work, Scoon has worked as a creative executive for Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films, a story analyst for Creative Artists Agency, and a studio executive for Warner Bros. Her narrative credits in her capacity as an executive include the Golden Globe(R)-nominated “The Great Debaters,” the Emmy-nominated “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X.” Scoon was also instrumental in the adaptation of “Beloved” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison.

“Sound of the Police” is produced by Firelight Films for ABC News Studios. The documentary is co-directed and produced by Nelson and Scoon. Marcia Smith and Keith Brown are executive producers for Firelight Films. Jacqueline Glover serves as executive producer for ABC News Studios. ABC News Studios is led by Kelley, and Reena Mehta is the SVP of Streaming and Digital Content.

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