Filmmaker Marco Williams discusses Philly-based ‘Murders That Matter’ documentary on Instagram Live

The cinematic journey documents one woman’s personal crusade to turn tragedy into positive action.

Movita Johnson-Harrell

Movita Johnson-Harrell (right) is comforted during a scene in the documentary film "Murders That Matter." Johnson-Harrell is holding a sign that says "I was murdered" with her son's Donte's portrait. She lost two sons to gun violence and is the main character in the film. (Yancy Harrell)

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WHYY News is collaborating with the documentary film showcase, POV, to examine the film “Murders That Matter” on POV docs’ Instagram Live on Jan. 9 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Filmmaker and director Marco Williams chronicled the path of Philadelphian Movita Johnson-Harrell over a handful of years. The cinematic journey documents her personal crusade, as a mother who lost two sons to gun violence and a survivor of decades-old trauma, to turn tragedy into hopeful action.

Williams and Johnson-Harrell will join WHYY Vice President of News Sarah Glover on the POV Instagram page for a discussion of the film and its perspective on gun violence this Tuesday. Glover will serve as a moderator of “Amplifying Lives, Countering Loss: Transparent Gun Violence Reporting on Black Communities.” The trio will explore the film’s origins and how the documentary is advancing conversations on providing trauma-informed services to co-victims and gun violence reporting in the media.

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Johnson-Harrell’s political rise and exit was woven into the film as it closely intertwined with her life’s work to support co-victims of gun violence. About two minutes into the film, Williams foreshadowed Johnson-Harrell facing jail time after allegations just six months into her historic tenure as the first Muslim state representative in Pennsylvania.

It’s the film’s rich storytelling that gives audiences a detailed perspective of the protagonist as a mother, wife and dedicated community servant. The movie documented the one-woman dynamo’s invested efforts into ensuring victims and co-victims of gun violence received the needed health and wrap-around support services following homicide in Philadelphia. She was the first victim to serve on a city task force committee dedicated to those improvements.

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Black Public Media, ITVS, BBV and WTTW are co-partnering with POV and WHYY News on the discussion.

POV has featured more than 500 films as part of its programs that air on public television. “Murders That Matter” first aired on WHYY TV-12 last October and is available to WHYY members via streaming in the PBS app. Here’s how to get started with the PBS Passport to view the documentary.

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