This year, America celebrates the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The landmark Supreme Court decision did not instantly end school segregation, but it destroyed the constitutional foundation upon which legalized segregation rested, making future gains possible. Most previous documentary accounts of the case have focused either on its larger-than-life heroes, such as Thurgood Marshall, or on the grand Constitutional questions involved. With All Deliberate Speed is different. This is a first-of-its-kind look at the unsung heroes of the struggle for desegregation, a portrait of the ordinary students, teachers, lawyers, and judges who risked their careers -- and even their lives -- for the cause of equality. Director Peter Gilbert, who lensed the superlative basketball documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) has a knack for bringing out the inner strength and passion of his subjects. Here he has some wonderful stories to tell: of Barbara Johns, a young girl who organized a student strike against her school in Farmville, VA; of the Rev. Joe Delaine, a small-town minister who lost his church, his house, and his livelihood as a consequence of standing up for his convictions; and of Gardner Bishop, a Washington D.C. activist who led the fight against "separate but equal" school facilities in the nation's capital. With All Deliberate Speed is more than just a historical documentary. It's an absorbing, multi-layered narrative with as many noble heroes as Hollywood's latest exercise in Tolkienesque arcana -- and anyone interested in the future of American democracy should see it.
Peter Gilbert, a member of the prolific Kartemquin Films team in Chicago, has produced and directed such documentaries as Vietnam: Long Time Coming (1998), for which he was awarded Best Director from the Directors Guild of America and a National Emmy for Distinguished Network Program (NBC); a segment (with Steve James) for the Sports Illustrated "Prelude to the Games" Olympic Special on NBC, which won Samsung's Olympic Media Award and was nominated for two Sports Emmys; and narrative features including A Time for Dancing, starring Amy Madigan and Peter Coyote. He also photographed and produced the narrative feature Prefontaine (1997). Gilbert was a producer and DP of Hoop Dreams (1994), the critically acclaimed documentary and recipient of awards from the Sundance Film Festival, the Producers Guild of America, Independent Spirit Award, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award, Chicago Film Critics, the National Board of Review, and the National Society of Film Critics. Gilbert also has a distinguished career directing commercials and music videos.