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Sammy-Gate in “Variety”

Our friends from Slamdance Film Festival gave us a little shout in Variety!

“Sammy-Gate,” from director Noel Lawrence, who co-wrote the script with Darius James, is a dark satire of psychedelic history, revolving around the unique relationship between Sammy Davis Jr. and Richard Nixon. It questions whether the entertainer had anything to do with Watergate. The film, which will world premiere at the 2020 Rotterdam Film Festival, was a true Slamdance community collaboration, as Baxter served as
an executive producer.

‘”Sammy-Gate’ is an example of how Slamdance’s ‘by filmmakers for filmmakers’ ethos continues to work year­ round,” Baxter says. “Though film culture tends to focus on the director, filmmaking is a collective effort. It espe­ cially matters on a microbudget project without commer­ cial or institutional support, essentially being forged into existence through sheer willpower and creative labor.”

Full article below: 

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Official Poster for Sammy-Gate

Just wanted to share the official poster for “Sammy-Gate”! It was designed by Seitu Hayden, apprentice of the late visionary artist Pedro Bell who is best known for designing Funkadelic’s notorious album covers. Additionally, many of the “Monopoly board” panels were originally executed by our production designer Priscilla Elliott and writer Darius James wrote the text in the comic book bubbles.

Like the film, a massive labor-intensive group effort. Thanks to everyone!

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press release

Long-awaited Satirical Biopic on Richard Nixon and Sammy Davis, Jr. to Premiere at IFFR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thee J.X. Williams Archive
c/o Edward Bernays
sammypr@gmail.com
www.SammyGate.com

Hollywood, CA – Eight years in the making, “SammyGate” chronicles the unlikely involvement of Sammy Davis, Jr. in the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon’s presidency. The film will have its world premiere at IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) on Friday, January 24.
 
Much like Kanye West and Trump a half-century later, Davis used his showbiz glitz to burnish the president’s credibility among a highly distrustful black community.  The effort backfired spectacularly, earning him nearly universal condemnation and dimming his star power for decades.
 
While this subject alone would provide ample material for a feature, writers Darius James and Noel Lawrence dug even deeper. Using the Davis/Nixon alliance as a starting point, they fabricated an elaborate alternative history in which Sammy triggers a chain of bizarre missteps by the FBI, the Mafia, and the Nixon Administration that result in the Watergate scandal.
 
“The universe of SammyGate is an absurd one,” Lawrence notes in his Director’s Statement “It’s a bizarro world in which Sammy gets attacked by a club sandwich while tripping on LSD. Or Richard Nixon manifests Satanic powers and speaks in tongues like Linda Blair from ‘The Exorcist.’ Or Louis Armstrong pilots a flying toilet to save Sammy from eternal damnation in Hell.”
 
Though the film focuses on the past, it speaks loud and clear to a present that obsesses on fake news and impeachment. As cultural critic Michael Gonzales notes, “Through its skillful mix of fact and fiction, SammyGate transforms ‘fake news’ into a fine art. The film presages a digital age in which nothing is true and everything is permitted.
 
You can view the trailer HERE.
 
You can view/download the EPK HERE.

SammyGate
89 mins | 2020 | USA
 
Director: Noel Lawrence
Written by: Darius James & Noel Lawrence

**Director Noel Lawrence and screenwriter Darius James will be available for interviews while at IFFR from Thursday, January 23 to Wednesday, January 29**
  
For media inquiries and interview requests, please contact Edward Bernays at sammypr@gmail.com
 
About Noel Lawrence
 
Noel Lawrence makes, curates, distributes, and writes about film.

As alter ego J.X. Williams, Lawrence produced a body of audiovisual work that critiqued institutions and historical discourses of cinema. His films have been showcased at The LouvreIFFRSlamdance, and Thessaloniki.  His provocative work has been featured in The New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Vice as well as a book of collected essays on his filmography, J.X. Williams: Les Dossiers Interdits (Camion Noir, 2010). 

More recently, Lawrence has collaborated on projects with Bootsy Collins and Iggy Pop as well as teaming up with the Luis Buñuel Film Institute on a lecture/presentation on the influence of surrealism in mid-century advertising.  Noel also co-curates the Department of Anarchy film section at Slamdance.
 
About Darius James
 
Darius James is an author, spoken-word artist, and expert on African-American folk culture. He is the author of five books. His debut novel Negrophobia (NYRB Classics) was just republished by the New York Review of Books. His follow-up book That’s Blaxploitation: Roots of the Badaasssss ‘Tude (St. Martins) was one of the pioneering works on the Blaxploitation genre of cinema.

After two decades in New York as a freelance journalist, Darius relocated to Berlin, Germany in 1998 where he worked as a radio host and theatre director. James also wrote and hosted The United States of Hoodoo, a road movie that traces the influence of voodoo on daily life and pop culture in the USA. The film premiered on Arte (Germany) in 2012. Currently, he is completing Aunt Katie’s Tales.]