Traci Curry’s (‘05) “Attica” Nominated for Best Documentary at the 2022 Academy Awards

April 6, 2022

Oscar nominees Stanley Nelson and Traci Curry on the red carpet at the 2022 Academy Awards. Photo: Firelight Media.

Berkeley Journalism alumna Traci Curry (’05), co-director and producer of the Showtime feature-length documentary “Attica,” was a finalist for best Documentary Feature at the 2022 Academy Awards.

“Attica” details the five-day rebellion that transpired in 1971 at the state prison  in upstate New York and remains the deadliest prison uprising the country has ever witnessed. More than a simple recounting of the rebellion, “Attica” offers a broader understanding of the tragedy in the crosscurrents of politics, race, power and punishment during the early 1970s.

The film reflects a larger issue: a United States judicial system that is rife with racism and disproportionately affects men of color, specifically Black men.  Curry described “Attica” as an opportunity for the people involved to reclaim their narrative and make their voices and their truths heard.

The film was co-directed by Curry and Stanley Nelson Jr., an Emmy-winning filmmaker whose work has largely centered on the lives and history of Black Americans, including projects about the Black Panthers and Emmett Till. Curry said working on the film together was something she is extremely grateful for.

“The man is a legend,” Curry said. “He’s the premier chronicler of Black history and the Black story that we have in this country, so it was a learning experience.”

Curry’s experience working on film was atypical. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of her work was done from home in Brooklyn, at her computer or the park across the street. Curry watched “Attica” go from her laptop to major theaters, receiving national attention. Though the film was not awarded the Oscar, Curry describes the experience as surreal.

She now is busily working on another project, as the showrunner for a Hulu series coming out soon.

Asked what advice she would give UC Berkeley journalism students, specifically Black students, Curry said, “I think that Black students should understand that whatever room you find yourself in, you belong there, that no one is doing you a favor, that you didn’t get in by accident.”

She added, “You are there because you deserve to be, you are there because you are talented, because you are worthwhile, because you have a perspective and story that is valuable.”

Curry got her start as a producer and writer for several national cable news shows and has been featured on a variety of networks, including Showtime, PBS, ESPN, MSNBC, BET, HGTV, TV One, CNN, and ABC. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

In March, the African American Film Critics Association awarded Curry and Nelson the Stanley & Karen Kramer Award for Social Justice for “Attica.” The film also was nominated for Outstanding Documentary at the NAACP Image Awards, earned three Critics Choice Awards nominations, including for Best Documentary Feature and Best Director, and was chosen as the opening night documentary at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.

By Kayla Henderson-Wood (’23)

 

 

 

 

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