Home Of The Brave

The empty rhetoric about "the price of freedom" that dominated so much post-9/11 posturing by politicians and opportunistic public figures snaps firmly into focus in light of this searing documentary's revelations about Viola Liuzzo, an unjustly forgotten hero of (and martyr to) the Civil Rights movement. Liuzzo was the 39-year-old wife of a Teamster boss...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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The empty rhetoric about "the price of freedom" that dominated so much post-9/11 posturing by politicians and opportunistic public figures snaps firmly into focus in light of this searing documentary's revelations about Viola Liuzzo, an unjustly forgotten hero of (and martyr to) the Civil Rights movement. Liuzzo was the 39-year-old wife of a Teamster boss and a mother of five who, stirred into action by the "Bloody Sunday" riot that rocked Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965, left her Detroit home and traveled to the Deep South to participate in the now-legendary Voters Rights March. She never made it home. On the last night of the four-day, 54-mile march, Liuzzo was shot to death on a lonely stretch of highway by four Klansmen as she rode in the passenger seat of car driven by Leroy Moton, a young black man who was helping her transport marchers from Montgomery to Selma. Shocked by her murder, President Lyndon Johnson pressured the FBI to find her killers, and in a matter of hours, J. Edgar Hoover was able to oblige; it turned out one of the passengers, possibly even the triggerman himself, was an FBI informant. Narrated by Stockard Channing, acclaimed filmmaker Paola di Florio's (SPEAKING IN STRINGS) fascinating feature attempts to answer two crucial questions about Liuzzo's death: Why isn't she better remembered, and why did Hoover and the FBI seem so intent on destroying Liuzzo's character in the years following her murder? The shocking answers, it turns out, have a lot to do with each other. Di Florio interviews many of Liuzzo's now-grown children at length, and the different directions their lives took are stories in themselves. Di Florio follows Liuzzo's daughter Mary as she retraces her mother's route from Detroit to Selma, meeting veterans of the Civil Rights struggle who know exactly who Viola Liuzzo was, then from Selma to Montgomery, pausing along the way to visit the site of her mother's murder. The story the film has to tell is an outrage, but it never devolves into a sputtering tirade. Even more than a crucial piece of remedial historiography, the film is also an unsettling exploration of the impact violence and shameful injustice continue to have on a family nearly 40 years after the fact.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: The empty rhetoric about "the price of freedom" that dominated so much post-9/11 posturing by politicians and opportunistic public figures snaps firmly into focus in light of this searing documentary's revelations about Viola Liuzzo, an unjustly forgotten… (more)

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