Just days before the world premiere of a documentary about her legendary marriage to Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee has died. The award-winning actress, poet, screenwriter and civil rights activist passed away at her home last night. She was 91. (Edited because of confusion in reports about actual age.) Moments ago, perhaps before the author even knew of her death, Andrew Gans posted this story on Playbill about the upcoming film. I’m sure Maya will be waiting at the gate for her with Ossie.
By Andrew Gans
12 Jun 2014
The film, which is the work of Davis and Dee’s grandson Muta’Ali, is part tribute, part history lesson and part coming-of-age story and gives viewers an intimate look into the “remarkable lives of the couple many consider the all-time king and queen of Black Hollywood,” according to production notes.
“To admire and speak highly of my grandparents is easy, but to apply their principles in my own life has proven less so. There is self-discovery in the vast space between what I look up to—their 56 year marriage, their socially conscious career choices, and their bravery in the struggle—and what I may be willing to practice,” said Muta’Ali in a statement.
The documentary is described as such: “Stunned by the death of his grandfather, Muta’Ali moves to New York to be able to spend more time with his grandmother and to get answers to some of his burning questions. The film, produced by Jevon ‘NJ’ Frank, follows Muta’Ali as he delves into chapters of their lives that span the 20th and 21st centuries, posing probing questions to his grandmother as well as to celebrity friends, costars and fellow activists of the star couple in his search for his own life’s path.”
Alan Alda, Angela Bassett, Harry Belafonte, Danny Glover, Hill Harper, Samuel Jackson, Spike Lee, Sonia Sanchez and Dr. Cornel West are among the notables who offer insights into and memories of the couple’s love, art and activism. Davis weighs in, too, speaking to his grandson through never-before-seen footage and memorabilia from the Davis-Dee family archives.
“Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee” will be screened June 22 at 1:50 pm at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased by visiting www.abff.com.