Principal photography has wrapped on Following Harry, a documentary that offers an inside view of 96-year-old civil rights icon Harry Belafonte’s continuing mission of social justice. The film directed and edited by Susanne Rostock is being readied for premiere at fall film festivals.
Belafonte, who celebrated his birthday on March 1, executive produces Following Harry. He, Rostock and producer Julius Nasso previously collaborated on the 2011 documentary Sing Your Song, a film that examined both Belafonte’s groundbreaking career in entertainment and his key role in the Civil Rights Movement. Following Harry is a present-tense account of Belafonte’s ongoing dedication to advance a more equitable and just society. It covers a span of time dating from the killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida more than a decade ago until today.
“Following Harry is a feature documentary that shares the lived experience of Harry Belafonte, in the most public of places and the most intimate confines of his private life,” a description of the film notes. “The film unfolds like a poem, allowing audiences to experience the effect that the social justice icon has purposefully, and unintentionally, created. From Ferguson to Fruitland Park, and Ossining to Ghana, even in Harry’s kitchen in New York City, the life’s work of this cultural and civil rights icon is explored.”
Following Harry picks up where the earlier documentary left off – evidence, if any were needed, that the work of forging social justice is far from over, despite what red state politicians might have you believe.
“At the close of Sing Your Song, I expressed my desire for the next generation to take my experiences freely, to learn from them, or to bring something better to move the cause of fighting injustice forward,” Belafonte said in a statement shared with Deadline. “So that’s where Following Harry opens, and it’s a magnificent story Susanne has created from over 12 years of footage filmed all over the world, not just with me, but with Aja Monet, Aloe Blacc, Carmen Perez, Philip Agnew, Jesse Williams and so many more important artist-activists.”
Rostock observed about her subject, “Harry is constantly engaging the most influential and expansive minds, elders, youth leaders, artists and civil rights activists alike. The questions he raises and the answers he uncovers are what power the radical challenges he puts forth. All of this creates a riveting discussion on where we are as a nation, as a world.” She added, “It is also a story of aging, of legacy, of responsibility for what one leaves behind. The result is the audience witnessing the creation of a multi- generational blueprint for the future.”
In an exclusive first-look at the film in the clip below, Belafonte comments, “If anybody had told me that after Dr. King’s murder, after the murder of Bobby Kennedy and all the upheavals of the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, that today — now — we would still be at the gate around issues of race and the vote, I wouldn’t have believed it. The truth of the matter is that the enemy doesn’t sleep.”
Producer Julius Nasso says Following Harry is part of a planned trilogy of documentaries that includes 2011’s Sing Your Song.
“Harry and I have known each other for over 30 years,” Nasso said. “Since we started collaborating on Sing Your Song, Harry and Susanne always envisioned a triptych storytelling approach of past, present and future. Sing Your Song explains the past, Following Harry explores the present moment, and the third will be the Belafonte Remix Series, a celebration of the next generation of leaders Harry has inspired, working together to inspire the world to move towards our best possible future.”