Since its inception, photography has been a medium not only used for art, but to expose the world to things happening right in front of them, things that people may not be able to see without the lens of a camera. Legendary activist and photographer Gordon Parks was well aware of this — and now, audiences will get the opportunity to peek into his process and see how it has affected the world at large in HBO’s newest documentary, A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks.
A Choice of Weapons, for which HBO has just released a trailer, explores Parks’s lasting legacy as not only a photographer, but as a composer, filmmaker, writer, and activist who documented a tumultuous time in Black history, shooting not only civil rights protests and poverty, but also icons like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X. The film explores his impact on culture and society through the lens of three contemporary photographers, Devin Allen, LaToya Ruby Frazier, and Jamel Shabazz, all of whom took a page out of Parks’s book and used their cameras for change, as effective as any speech or novel or physical act of protest.
“With all that Black people were confronting,” says interviewee Jelani Cobb, “It requires a great deal of temerity to say that you’re going to change that with your camera.”
The film features a compelling overview of the Black American experience, covering Parks’ early work in the 1940s through his work with publications like Life and Vogue, and his extraneous writing, composing, and directing, including his work on the 1971 film Shaft. The film highlights Parks’s use of his camera as a weapon to challenge systems of racism and poverty as Life’s first Black photographer, featuring interviews with Anderson Cooper, Ava DuVernay, Nelson George, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Spike Lee, Khalil Muhammad, Bryan Stevenson, and more.
Directed by John Maggio and executive produced by Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Alicia Keys, A Choice of Weapons will premiere exclusively on HBO on November 15 at 10 p.m. EST, and be available to stream simultaneously on HBO Max. Check out the film’s brand new trailer below: