A Cinematic Salute to MLK by Bay Street Theater

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Arnold Michaelis (seated) in the Atlanta home of Dr. King during the 1965 filming of "Martin Luther King Jr: A Personal Portrait." Courtesy Bay Street Theater.

Bay Street Theater and the Southampton African American Museum (SAAM) are teaming up for a special online presentation of “Martin Luther King Jr: A Personal Portrait” on Thursday, March 25, at 8 p.m. via Zoom. Following the screening, Emmy Award-winning cinematographer George Silano, who filmed the footage over the course of a week in December 1965, will join Brenda Simmons, the founder and executive director of SAAM, for a question-and-answer session.

North Haven cinematographer George Silano. Courtesy Bay Street Theater.

“Martin Luther King Jr: A Personal Portrait” is an intimate and candid glimpse at the life of America’s great civil rights leader at a high point in his work and the movement. Filmed in his Atlanta home, the documentary introduces Dr. King shortly following his winning of the Nobel Peace Prize and the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In the documentary, Dr. King speaks openly with the film’s producer, journalist Arnold Michaelis, about his position within the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the notion of sacrificing one’s own life in the fight for a higher cause. The film includes rare footage of a discussion with King’s wife, Coretta, who provides her own unique perspective of their home life and his activism.

Brenda Simmons will lead a Q&A with George Silano. Courtesy Bay Street Theater.

Michaelis is a renowned television producer and journalist, who over the course of his career interviewed important cultural figures including John Wayne, Leonard Bernstein, Eleanor Roosevelt and Indira Gandhi. To make the film, Michaelis hired freelance cinematographer George Silano, who in 2012 rediscovered the footage in the archives of the University of Georgia, where the film had been kept following Michaelis’ death in 1997.

Silano, who lives in North Haven, is an Emmy Award-winning cinematographer and photographer whose career has spanned 50 years. He has worked on a number of feature-length documentaries, including “The City of Ships,” “Changing World,” “The Hippie Temptation” and “What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?” He directed the film “The Stoolie” and was director of photography on “Recess” and “The Last American Hero.”

He lives in North Haven.

Tickets for the event are free at baystreet.org. Email registration is required.