Synopsis: Since the founding of this country, who gets to vote has been a contested issue. In 2013 a controversial Supreme Court ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act further inflamed the issue as photo ID requirements and other strict voting regulations spread to many states. Many argue that these states are cynically trying to circumvent federal protections and prevent minorities from voting, while others insist that these new laws are common sense regulations designed to protect the integrity of elections. These arguments serve to highlight the struggle that was waged to gain passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. In the southern states of the U.S., the fight over voter registration came to a head over a 4 year period from 1961-1965. In that time there were beatings, bombings, protest marches, mass jailings and murder . Once the Voting Rights Act was signed, it was not the end of the struggle over voting, but the opening of a new front in the battle to attain and retain power. LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE will connect the dots across generations to illustrate how events from over 50 years ago are still reverberating in today’s heated political climate as the country wrestles with the issues of race and voting.
The narrative follows a Then and Now timeline that shares first person accounts from participants in the Civil Rights Movement as well as meeting present day activists that are fighting to preserve the gains of the past and forge a new path forward. The film will also explore the political fallout following the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and how the states came to realign politically and race continued to be a common theme in manipulating and exploiting the motivations of politicians as well as those of the electorate.
I feel the obvious first order of business for a documentary is to impart information. What I found to be the tricky part is to always provide proper context. Information without context can actually be harmful. Tackling a film that spans 60 years as my first feature turned out to be quite an undertaking, but given where we are as a nation, I can think of no higher calling than to provide historical context to issues as hotly contested as race and voting rights.
With 30 years experience creating award winning visual effects for feature films and television “Let The People Decide” is Gavin’s directorial debut. In 2013 he was in the audience for a presentation by the cast of “Roots” when they asked the crowd “What are YOU doing to advance the cause of racial equality in the world today?!” Let The People Decide was born out of that challenge. After 6.5 years of production, the film made it’s successful debut at the 2019 Margaret Mead Film Festival and is being met with high demand in this presidential election year. Gavin teaches visual effects and film making at various colleges and universities in the New York region.
He resides in Weston, CT with his wife and young daughter.