Invisible Revolution

Director: Beverly Peterson
Screenwriters: Barbara Bowen, Beverly Peterson

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


This insightful documentary sheds light not merely on American race relations, but on its articulation by a new generation who is transforming the dynamics of racial politics in America. Filmmaker Beverly Peterson frames a dramatic, never-before-seen portrait of American youth, with all of its impassioned energy brought to bear on one of America's most urgent struggles. A nineteen-year-old Ku Klux Klan grand wizard? It's not unheard of anymore. Nor are pro-white strongholds in the American heartland, extending far beyond the South. These are just some of the arresting observations in Peterson's documentary, which examines both racist and anti-racist factions. The film offers neither answers nor solutions, but poses alarming new questions about the future of this country's most polarizing—and according to many, most overlooked—ideological struggle.

Taking an even-handed approach, Peterson focuses her camera on both sides of this pitched battle. We are introduced to youthful members of white supremacist groups, as well as Anti-Racist Action (ARA), the grass-roots organization that demonstrates against racist activity. Sidestepping the opportunity to vilify pro-white spokespersons and exploit easy emotions, Peterson gives equal time to skinheads and Klan members committed to racial purity (and resigned to occasional violence), and ARA members distressed that anti-racist activists are often written off as just another group of extremists. Disturbing revelations abound, including the view from both sides that a much larger and more violent struggle looms. Noteworthy as a first examination of a new social phenomenon, Peterson's documentary is equally a call to Americans to acknowledge racism as the divisive, inflammatory, and especially resilient force that a new generation is proving it to be.

— Shannon Kelly

Screening Details


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