Director Yoruba Richen Unpacks the REAL History of 'The Negro Motorist Green Book' In The Doc 'Green Book: Guide to Freedom'
Much has been said about the contentious Academy Award-winning film, Green Book. The feature film is based on the alleged friendship of Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) —a world-renowned Black queer musician and his driver —a white man named Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen). Shadow And Act called Green Book a "white savior film," and some of Dr. Shirley’s family members have spoken out against it, exclusively telling Shadow And Act that it’s “a symphony of lies.” One of the more alarming elements about the controversial film has been its erasure of Victor Hugo Green’s The Negro Motorist Green Book. Though it's titled Green Book, the ground-breaking travel guide is hardly mentioned in the movie.
In the midst of all of the back and forth regarding Green Book — acclaimed filmmaker Yoruba Richen is turning her lens back on Victor Hugo Green, the well-connected Black postal worker who published the Black guide for travelers from the 1930s to the 1960s. In her superb documentary, The Green Book: Guide to Freedom, Richen examines the history of The Negro Motorist Green Book and the legacy of Black-owned businesses that still prevail more than fifty years after the last Green Book was published. Ahead of the film’s premiere, Richen sat down to talk to Shadow and Act about the history of travel in the Black community, the Black middle class in Jim Crow America, and, of course, Green Book.
"I was approached to direct this film in the summer of 2017," Richen revealed. "I thought I knew my Black history, but this was an aspect that I did not know, and I was immediately intrigued and interested because it gave us such a rich way to understand various themes that we explore in the film. It just seemed like such a great way to uncover this.
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