Stanley Nelson on the Art of the Documentary and His Latest Film, 'Attica'

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Stanley Nelson speaks onstage during The 75th Annual Peabody Awards Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on May 21, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Peabody Awards)

When Stanley Nelson was growing up in 1950s New York, the award-winning documentary filmmaker had no idea he wanted to enter the profession because, he recalls, film wasn't a career option for African Americans at all. Nelson has gone on to direct and produce scores of documentaries over a decades-long career, shedding light on both familiar and underappreciated corners of the American experience. We'll talk to him about his latest film, "Attica," which was recently shortlisted for an Academy Award, and hear why he avoids re-enactments, how he gets his subjects to open up to him and what draws him to stories of institutions and movements that are greater than any one individual.


Stanley Nelson, documentary filmmaker, "Attica." His previous films include "Freedom Riders," Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool," and "The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution."