University of Colorado Boulder community members were treated to a special screening of a new documentary, hosted by the International Film Series.
Film subject Terrance Roberts, journalist and director of the film Julian Rubinstein and Associate Professor David Pyrooz spoke on a Q&A panel following the screening of the documentary on Feb. 1.
The event at Muenzinger Auditorium – organized by Associate Professor Hillary Potter – was the last advance showing before the documentary’s wide release to streaming services and select theaters on Feb. 3.
“The Holly” follows a former Bloods gang member-turned-activist that was working to revitalize the Park Hill neighborhood and historic Denver civil rights landmark, Holly Square, when he shocked the community by shooting a young gang member at his own peace rally in the summer of 2013.
“The whole point of the work I was doing was to really be a positive role model,” said Roberts. “Has this angered active gang members who are working with law enforcement? Sure. But we’re not catering to them anyways.”
The film is based on Rubinstein’s acclaimed 2021 book “The Holly: Five Bullets, One Gun and the Struggle to Save an American Neighborhood” which was developed over seven years of investigating Roberts’s complicated entanglements with the Park Hill community, local gangs and Denver police.
“As soon as I started getting deeper and deeper, it soon got deeper and deeper,” said Rubinstein, who is also a Denver local. “But I think that it’s very important to the health of our cities and societies [to know] about what’s going on in vulnerable communities, both with policing, with violence, with activism, and with issues with public funding.”
The screening and Q&A panel was moderated by Associate Professor Hillary Potter who grew up and still lives in Roberts’s Park Hill neighborhood.
“It was actually serendipitous,” said Potter. “I wanted to bring it to CU […] I wanted to spread the story as far as we can.”
Roberts has now announced his bid for Denver Mayor, joining a crowded ballot of 17 candidates up for election on April 4, 2023. Roberts said he believes his name recognition in the community and his experience as an activist will help bring meaningful change to the city, especially to the issue of the housing crisis.
“And if I don’t become the mayor, I’m still going to do the work,” said Roberts.
The award-winning documentary premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in Sep. 2022 and is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Google Play and others.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Emi Ambory at firstname.lastname@example.org.