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From Nationtime (1972), dir. William Greaves (image courtesy Kino Lorber)

In March of 1972, around 10,000 Black Americans gathered in Gary, Indiana for the National Black Political Convention. Amidst turbulent times, they produced the Gary Declaration, a call for a renewed emphasis on independent Black political movements. Prolific documentarian William Greaves was present with his cameras for all three days of his event, creating the film Nationtime out of it. (The title comes from a recurring call and response during the convention — “What time is it?” “Nation time!”)

The documentary was produced for television broadcast, but Greaves’s original cut was deemed “too militant” and it was aired as a compromised 58-minute version. For nearly 50 years since then, the film has circulated little, and only in that truncated edition. But IndieCollect recently restored the 80-minute original, and in 4K to boot, and now it’s available for all. You can see how Greaves captures the energy of the event, observing speakers such as Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and Betty Shabazz, as well as the effect their speeches have on the attendees. Their words serve as an electric portrait of this time in history.

Nationtime is now in virtual cinemas.

Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is Associate Editor for Documentary at Hyperallergic. He lives and works in New York.