More than 40 years after her acquittal, American activist Angela Davis recalls how 'Institutions have very long memories - even longer than some individuals,' reflecting on a new documentary based on her life.
The release of "Free Angela & all Political Prisoners" at the Toronto International Film Festival marks the anniversary that Davis was freed from charges of conspiracy, kidnapping and murder, after the shooting of a judge at the Marin Courthouse in California.
The outspoken activist was fired from her teaching job at UCLA for being a communist and was imprisoned as a terrorist.
But, this happened to her after being hired to teach Marxism, Davis said during a press conference Monday afternoon.
"Repression builds on codes of oppression," said Davis, "There was a great deal of anti-communism at the time. My story actually started when I was fired for being a member of the communist party, though I taught Marxism."
Now, at 68, Davis is still involved in social movements, including prisoners' rights.
Producing pair (and real life couple) Will and Jada Pinkett Smith did not attend the conference, but other Hollywood celebs, including Davis' own niece, who plays her aunt on screen and director Shola Lynch, were there.
Described as camera shy when originally approached with the idea for the project, Davis spoke eloquently and with passion, as she looked back on her personal journey.
"I must admit I was somewhat reluctant. I have always been a reluctant public person," said Davis, who was convinced after the director told her it may help to inspire future activists.
Niece Elsa Davis agreed the film is filled with opportunity to link the interconnections of the past with what brings similar struggles together today.
"The film looks at how people go into the criminal justice system to begin with, and the project allowed us the opportunity to speak to this (restorative justice) " said Elsa Davis.
Her aunt, whose life story the film is based on, agreed.
" It (the movie) embodies a collective power. Older people who have historical memories, who are usually remembering their own youth, might say they see themselves in the film."
Both aunt and niece credited Lynch, who directed, for being a 'tenacious woman' who got things done.
"I am very gracious to see all of the information that went into the making of the documentary," Elsa Davis noted. "There are so many people in it who I've known as family, supporters throughout the trial, and those who were alive then. I was born while Angela was imprisoned."
To that, Lynch said she definitely wanted to honour a sense of authenticity of facts, surrounding Davis' story.
"I wanted to find as many facts as possible. I wanted it to feel authentic. The FBI is a great resource, they document everything," said Lynch. " There are also two audiences I wanted to balance. I needed to move along and have the film work as a constructed story."