Back to All Events

BPPFF 11: Life's Essentials with Ruby Dee

  • maysles documentary center 343 Malcolm X Boulevard New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

Muta'Ali Muhammad, 2014, 90 min.

It’s hard not to feel like you're eavesdropping on a private family conversation while watching Muta'Ali Muhammad's documentary tribute to his grandparents Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. Lovingly dedicated to "Grandpa & Gram Rudy" in the opening credits, Life's Essentials With Ruby Dee is a deeply personal effort in which the filmmaker is as much the subject as his famed actor/activist relatives. Structured in the form of an open cinematic letter to his grandmother, the film begins with Muhammad lamenting the fact that he never had the opportunity to interview Davis in depth before his sudden 2005 death in a Miami hotel room. Among those paying tribute to Davis at his funeral was Bill Clinton, who declared, "He would have been a very good president of the United States."

This eventually prompted the filmmaker to interview his grandmother before it was too late — she died at the age of 91 — with the resulting documentary including many excerpts from their filmed conversations as well as a brief history of her and Davis' life and career. Dee meeting Davis when they co-starred in the 1946 Broadway play Jeb. They married in 1948, with the union lasting over 56 years. "I thought it was a pretty good use of a Thursday," Davis later said about their wedding day. 

Muta'Ali Muhammad (filmmaker and grandson of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee) will be present for a post-screening discussion

Presented by the NY Black Panther Party Commemoration Committee
Dedicated to #7 of Black Panther Party 10 Point Program: “We want an immediate end to Police brutality.

Every night The 10 Point Program and Over 800 Years In Captivity will be shown.