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‘Good Trouble’ shows the essence of the late Representative John Lewis

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, MSJ

The Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) continues “Film Center from Your Sofa: Stay Connected and Stream with Us.” Considering the untimely death of Representative John Lewis, a documentary that was planned a few weeks ago will give viewers an in-depth look at the fiery 80-year-old who passed away on July 17, after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

I am sure many prayed that he would live forever, but he is credited with a wealth of civil rights initiatives during his long social justice career that included him suffering a cracked skull during the landmark 1965 march for rights in Selma, Alabama. In a CNN statement Lewis’ family remarked: “It is with inconsolable grief and enduring sadness that we announce that passing of U.S. Rep. John Lewis. He was honored and respected as the conscience of the U.S. Congress and an icon of American history, but we knew him as a loving father and brother. He was a stalwart champion in the on-going struggle to demand respect for the dignity and worth of every human being. He dedicated his entire life to non-violent activism and was an outspoken advocate in the struggle for equal justice in America. He will be deeply missed.”

John lewis official biopic
Congressman John Lewis

The Film Center now presents its virtual offerings as open-ended runs, and “John Lewis: Good Trouble” is available for streaming now. The John Robert Lewis film streaming will be immediately followed by a pre-recorded discussion between Representative Lewis and Oprah Winfrey, filmed last month and being made available exclusively for virtual cinema and in-theater engagements of the film. This is a wide-ranging, informal, 16-minute conversation that’s a perfect follow-up to the documentary and could not be more relevant.

John Lewis’ film is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dawn Porter and chronicles the life and career of the legendary civil rights activist and his reign for 33 years as a Democratic Representative from Georgia. Using interviews and rare archival footage, the film chronicles John Robert Lewis’ 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with the late Lewis, Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter’s primarily cinéma verité film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life. (Description courtesy of Magnolia Films).

I enjoyed watching Lewis as he watched some of this archival footage for the first time. He was totally engrossed and appeared to be humbled by it all. One of the major highlights was a segment where Lewis watches footage of when he crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Another nice clip shows his excitement about a well-earned political achievement, and he is taped dancing to “Happy,” the song by Pharrell Williams. There are interviews with his sisters about growing up on a farm in Troy, Alabama. This film is available to be purchased as a gift to stream.

This film is also Closed Captioned. All ticket buyers are welcome to stream a live panel discussion presented by the Freedom Rides Museum of Montgomery, Alabama, featuring Freedom Riders Dr. Bernard Lafayette and Dr. Rip Patton in conversation with director Dawn Porter. In partnership with the Capri Theater. The live panel will be archived to watch afterward. To purchase tickets, visit [].

If patrons are experiencing difficulties with streaming links, send a message through the Film Center’s Facebook page or to [[email protected]].

Note the following about “Film Center from Your Sofa:”

The John Lewis documentary and other films are those that the Film Center has screened in the past, would have been screening now, or reflect the venue’s critically acclaimed programming.

Due to the many different sources, there are a range of prices and available dates for each film. However, none of the prices are more than what one would pay for a single, non-member movie ticket.

Please note that viewers will be required to set up individual accounts through streaming services and distributors in order to stream “Film Center From Your Sofa;” having a Film Center account will not apply.

Because the Film Center is connecting audience members to a variety of platforms, member or any other discounts for streaming cannot be offered. To compensate, Film Center membership expiration dates will be extended to exclude this period of suspended programming. All proceeds during this challenging time will help the Film Center and partnering distributors to continue operating.

Other films are also available via streaming. Visit [] for more information.

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