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Starz acquires Smith Olympic protest doc

Smith, centre, raises his fist after winning gold in the 200m

Lionsgate-owned US cablenet Starz has acquired exclusive rights to a documentary on Tommie Smith’s iconic protest against racial inequality at the 1968 Olympics.

With Drawn Arms uncovers the legacy of Smith who, after winning gold in the 200 metres at the 1968 Summer Olympics, stunned the world by thrusting his fist in the air while the US national anthem was played.

Set to air on November 2 having been an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, the doc follows Smith as he looks back at the moment that helped define a movement and provided a symbol of hope and solidarity for marginalised groups throughout the US.

The product of a long-term collaboration between Smith and artist Glenn Kaino, With Drawn Arms traces the Olympian’s peaceful protest to the collective action currently taking place in the US, considering the historical significance of the gesture and its ever-increasing relevance 50 years later.

It features interviews with prominent activists including actor Jesse Williams, sports analyst Jemele Hill, US soccer gold medallist Megan Rapinoe and the late congressman John Lewis.

Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winner John Legend and Jesse Williams serve as executive producers on the doc alongside producers Glen Zipper (Challenger: The Final Flight) and Sean Stuart (What’s My Name: Muhammed Ali).

“This film has been in the making for eight years. We’re thrilled to work with Starz to ensure Tommie’s message is heard nationwide, at such an urgent juncture in history,” said co-directors Glenn Kaino and author Afshin Shahidi in a joint statement.

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