Singer John Legend, along with his Get Lifted partners Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius, and actor Jesse Williams will executive-produce “With Drawn Arms”, artists Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi’s incredibly timely documentary about the importance and inspiration of Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith’s powerful salute at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
In this groundbreaking film, Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi use an ongoing artistic collaboration between Kaino and Smith to connect Smith’s silent but meaningful gesture in 1968 to the critical moments and most important voices of today, exploring the very nature of symbolic action and the critical importance of making images in our time.
“We are excited to collaborate with true artists in Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi to bring this powerful story to the world in a fresh and compelling way,” said John Legend. “In this current climate we are once again being charged to stand up to bigotry, fear, and hate. We are inspired by this story and honored to be a creative partner on this film.”
“Tommie Smith is more than an iconic poster or risky act of defiance that inspires people the world over. He is a living man, whose incredible journey is worthy of examination. I couldn’t be more excited to join forces with this team of filmmakers, to share his reality and challenge our notions of heroism in the process,” said Jesse Williams.
Williams, who gained international acclaim with his 2016 BET Humanitarian Award acceptance speech, is an activist, actor and producer whose work spans across television, film, and technology, consistently uplifting the voices of marginalized people.
“We could not be more excited that Get Lifted Film Co. and Jesse Williams will lend their impressive talents to ‘With Drawn Arms,’ a story that began 50 years ago and is as relevant now as it was then,” said Kaino and Shahidi. “We look forward to working with Jesse, John, Mike and Ty, and to benefit from their extensive creative talent as we craft this story.”
“With Drawn Arms” is currently in production in Los Angeles and is targeted for a 2018 release during the 50th anniversary of Tommie Smith’s salute.
With Drawn Arms is written by Glenn Kaino and directed by Kaino and Afshin Shahidi, who also serve as Executive Producers alongside Jesse Williams, Delois Smith, and John Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted.
Williams recently executive produced the documentary film “Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement” (2016) and the docu-series “America Divided” with Norman Lear. Legend’s Get Lifted banner recently produced the hit TV show “Underground” (2016), Academy Award winning “La La Land” (2016), and HBO Documentary “Southern Rites” (2015).