The Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 - Oscar Nom on HBO February 18:Hot and Latest News
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The Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 - Oscar Nom on HBO February 18

The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306, filmmaker Adam Pertofsky's stirring documentary about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., premieres on February 18 on HBO2, as part of the cable network's Black History Month programming. The 32-minute Oscar-nominated nonfiction short features eyewitness testimony by Reverend Samuel "Billy" Kyles, a close friend and colleague of Dr. King's, who was standing beside Dr. King on the balcony outside room 308 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, when the beloved civil rights leader was slain on April 4, 1968.
Reverend Kyles, a powerful preacher and compelling orator in his own right, tells of events preceding Dr. King's death, including his arrival in Memphis to support local garbage men in their strike for higher wages and the hour of light-hearted conversation with Dr. King that preceded their fateful appearance on the balcony.
Pertovsky actually interviewed Kyles on that very balcony and includes archival footage and photographs from the day of the fatal shooting, which gives the film an almost eerie sense of immediacy and place.

Also interviewed for the film, Maxine Smith and Benjamin Hooks speak soulfully of the ironies of circumstance and timing, and remind us of the emotionally devastating effects of Dr. King's death. But the most effective reminders of all are the archival clips we see of Dr. King's last speech, the famous "dream" address in which he actually predicts his own assassination--"I may not live to see it," he comments--but passionately proclaims that the movement for equal rights will be triumphant. Reverend Kyles' emotionally-charged comment that "you can kill the dreamer, but the dream lives on" stands as the strong message of this moving documentary--and it's a message that has tremendous resonance as we celebrate Black History Month and the election of the first African-American president of the United States.

You can see The Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 on HBO2 on Wednesday, February 18 at 8pm (ET/PT). And watch the 81st Academy Awards on February 22 on ABC to see whether The Witness From the Balcony of Room 306 takes home an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. Meanwhile, you can view the trailer.

(PHOTO: Reverend Samuel Kyles on the balcony of room 306, courtesy of Margaret Hyde Photography).


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