‘Unalienable Rights,’ an animated film on Philly’s ‘78 attack on MOVE

MOVE Bombingsources: Bay View News
published: 26 August 2019

There are a few animated short films in the Oakland International Film Festival this year, but there is only one that mixes documentary story-telling with animation. “Unalienable Rights” by filmmaker Froi Cuesta tells the story of the 1978 MOVE confrontation with the Philly police and all of the local politics surrounding it.

It screens Wednesday, Sept. 25, 8:45 p.m., at the Regal Theater in Jack London Square. Go to oiff.org for more information.

What struck me most about this short film was the detail that it gave to key players and key events that happened during the confrontation, including the MOVE family, John Africa, political prisoner Mumia Abu Jamal, who was then a beat journalist, Mayor Frank Rizzo, the flooding of the MOVE house by police intentionally, and the police beating of Delbert Africa in front of news cameras.

I wanted to talk to the filmmaker Froi Cuesta about his cinematic creation “Unalienable Rights” and what it took to make this project come to life.

M.O.I. JR: What made you want to animate a short film of MOVE’s 1978 confrontation with the police? Will you animate more of that story, particularly the cases of the MOVE 9 political prisoners who were held captive as a result of the Philly police being shot in the standoff?

Froi Cuesta: Years ago, I had written a screenplay entitled “Brotherly Love,” unfortunately inspired by the 1985 bombing of the MOVE organization in an organized effort by elected Philadelphia officials.

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