Director Roger Ross Williams on His Emmy-Nominated VR Doc 'Traveling While Black': 'We're Turning a Corner As Creators and Filmmakers' [Video]
He talks with Nonfictionfilm.com at Creative Arts ceremony about film that tells true story of 'Negro Motorist Green Book'
The 2018 Oscar-winning film Green Book borrowed the title of the famous "Negro Motorist Guide" that identified safe places where black drivers could get a meal or a hotel room while traveling in the north and south. But "superficial" would be a kind word to apply to Peter Farrelly's drama, which foregrounded a white driver's journey of discovery as he chauffeured a black musician around the south in the early 1960s.
For the real story of the Green Book, there is Roger Ross Williams VR film Traveling While Black, which earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Interactive Program. It was filmed mostly at Ben's Chili Bowl, a DC institution that has served as one of those safe spaces for black patrons across decades (the documentary can be seen in "360 video" on the New York Times website).
I spoke with Williams at the Creative Arts ceremony in Los Angeles last weekend, where Primetime Emmys were presented in a variety of categories, including VR and documentary. He walked the red carpet with Paul Raphaël, co-founder of the VR company Felix & Paul Studios, who collaborated on Traveling While Black, and Samaria Rice, one of the subjects of the film. Her son, Tamir Rice, was shot to death by a Cleveland police officer in 2014, a tragic example of the danger faced by African Americans while in public spaces.
Watch the video here:
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.