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The Loving Story
Produced by Nancy Buirski and Elisabeth Haviland James
A film by Nancy Buirski
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Oscar-shortlist selection THE LOVING STORY, the debut feature by Full Frame Documentary Film Festival founder Nancy Buirski, is the definitive account of Loving v. Virginia—the landmark 1967 Supreme Court decision that legalized interracial marriage.

Married in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1958, Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter returned home to Virginia where their marriage was declared illegal—he was white, and she was black and Native American. At the time, anti-miscegenation laws were upheld in 16 states. The Lovings refused to leave one another and, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, took their case to the courts.

Hope Ryden’s luminous, newly discovered 16mm footage of the Lovings and their young ACLU lawyers, Bernard S. Cohen and Philip J. Hirschkop, as well as first-person testimony by their daughter Peggy Loving and rare documentary photographs by LIFE Magazine photographer Grey Villet, recounts the little-known story of the Loving family.

Their case made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court, whose decision—under Chief Justice Earl Warren—finally struck down state laws against interracial marriage throughout the country. THE LOVING STORY takes us behind the scenes of the legal challenges and the emotional turmoil that they entailed, documenting a seminal moment in American history and reflecting a timely message of marriage equality in a personal, human love story.

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"Loving v. Virginia changed America." —The Washington Post

"A perfect time capsule that illuminates the racist past of our country with a uniquely personal and poignant emphasis." —The Hollywood Reporter

"Highly recommended...informative and emotionally engaging." —Educational Media Reviews Online

"Their desire to simply live together as husband and wife in their home state led to a Supreme Court ruling that overturned Virginia's law prohibiting interracial marriage and declared all such laws unconstitutional." —Southern Poverty Law Center

"This story about the Lovings' courage and determination is enough to make viewers care deeply about a legal decision." —Mother Jones

"In a rich collection of 16-millimeter film, old news clips and still photographs, the Lovings don’t look like two people caught up in a cause, they seem like two people caught up in each other." —The New York Times

"Using evocative photographs, newly unearthed footage and interviews with Lovings' daughter and lawyers, the film reveals the power of love to overcome bigotry." —Blackvoices, The Huffington Post

“Documenting many pivotal moments in the case, it adds a dash of something rarely seen in the grand narrative of the American Civil Rights struggle: romance." —Chicago Sun-Times

"The most romantic and moving documentary of the year..." —Bust Magazine

"Above all, the film harbors a lingering sense of personal agency. If the Lovings teach us nothing else, it's that anyone can change the course of history." —International Documentary Association

"At a time of sometimes raucous public debate on a similar issue, the documentary reminds us that the U.S. usually - if belatedly - works its way toward decisions that come down against discrimination. Highly recommended." —Video Librarian

"It ranks alongside LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN in its stark beauty and searing honesty. THE LOVING STORY should win every award given for documentary film. ... It will also have a welcome audience in classrooms across the country." —William R. Ferris, Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History, UNC - Chapel Hill, and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities

Winner, 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Historical Programming
Nominee, 2013 Emmy Awards Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Documentary
Winner, 2013 George Foster Peabody Award
Winner, Best Use of Footage in a Factual Production, Focal International Awards 2012
Winner, WGA Screenplay Award, 2011 Silverdocs Documentary Festival
Winner, 2012 John E. O'Connor Film Award, American Historical Association
Centerpiece, 2011 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
2013 Bermuda Docs Film Festival
2012 Sundance Film Forward
2012 United Nations Association Film Festival
2012 Mixed Roots Film Festival
2011 Tribeca Film Festival
2011 Saint Louis Film Festival
2011 Virginia Film Festival
2011 Hamptons International Film Festival
2011 Heartland Film Festival
2011 Traverse City Film Festival

77 minutes / color/b&w
Closed Captioned
Release: 2012
Copyright: 2011
Sale — Colleges & Universities: $298
Public Libraries & High Schools: $149.98

Teacher's Guide Available in Adobe PDF Format

In theaters now!

Subject areas:
African-American Studies, American Studies, Biographies, Civil rights, Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Ethics, Family Relations, High School Use, History (U.S.), Human rights, Jewish Studies, Law, Politics, Racism, Women's Studies

Related Links:
Filmmaker Nancy Buirski
Press Quotes Page
Legal Issues and Events
View a PDF of the Film's Press Kit


Film Clips

Related Titles:
The Intolerable Burden: One black family's commitment to a quality education, from the pre-1965 time of segregation, through desegregation, and through the recent period of resegregation. **Winner, John E. O'Connor Film Award, American Historical Association**

Código Color, Memorias: An exploration of racism and skin color in Cuba during the 1950s.

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