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Conversation and reception with documentary filmmaker Sam Pollard

The Black Lens Program, part of the Milwaukee Film Festival, has selected Sam Pollard’s Two Trains Runnin’ as part of its 2016 lineup. The film focuses on two separate groups (record collectors and musicians) who travel to Mississippi in 1964 to look for two blues musicians in the midst of Freedom Summer. In a conversation with Dr. William Welburn, Marquette University’s executive director for institutional diversity and inclusion, Pollard will discuss the documentaries he has either directed or collaborated on during the past three decades.

Location and Time

Sunday, October 2nd
2:00–3:30 p.m. Conversation and Reception
Alumni Memorial Union, Lunda Room, Marquette’s campus
Refreshments and snacks will be provided.
Shuttle provided on Sunday between the AMU and Times Cinema.

4:30 p.m. Two Trains Runnin’ Film Screening
Times Cinema, 5906 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI

Additional screening of Two Trains Runnin’ is on Saturday, Oct. 1, 7:00 p.m. at Downer Theatre.

Pre-registration and pick-up of film ticket from Marquette University Special Events by Monday, Sept. 26, is required to view a screening.  

RSVP Needed

Please register by Monday, Sept. 26.

Register ▶

Limited film tickets are available and must be picked up from University Special Events by Sept. 26. Ticket holders MUST ARRIVE AT LEAST 15 MINUTES BEFORE SHOWTIME to be GUARANTEED a seat. Your ticket will not guarantee you a seat; seats not filled 15 minutes before showtime may be offered to other attendees.


For questions or special needs, contact University Special Events at or 414.288.7431.

Shuttle Information

Limited street parking is available, as is transportation from Marquette’s campus.  Shuttles will depart from the Alumni Memorial Union to the Times Cinema beginning at 3:30 p.m. and continue to loop every 20 minutes.  The last shuttle will leave the Times Cinema at 6:45 p.m.

Programming Information

Hosted by Dr. Donte McFadden (EOP/Black Lens)
Moderated by Dr. William Welburn, executive director for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion
Panelist: Sam Pollard

Description of the Film (courtesy of Milwaukee Film Festival)

In the summer of 1964, hundreds of college students flooded into Mississippi to join the fight for civil rights (as seen in Freedom Summer, a selection from the inaugural year of the Black Lens Program, MFF2014). At the same time, there were two groups of musicians and record collectors that also made their way to the South, seeking to discover the whereabouts of blues musicians Son House and Skip James and convince them to come out of retirement. Containing strong performances of classic blues standards by contemporary musicians such as Gary Clark Jr. and Lucinda Williams, Two Trains Runnin’ tracks the convergence of our political and cultural institutions during one fateful summer that changed the course of both music and American history. To see more about the film, visit

Bio on Sam Pollard (Courtesy of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts)

Sam Pollard's professional accomplishments as a feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director span almost 30 years.  He recently served as executive producer on the documentary Brother Outsider, an Official Selection of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.  His first assignment as a documentary producer came in 1989 for Henry Hampton's Blackside production Eyes On The Prize II: America at the Racial Crosswords.  For one of his episodes in this series, he received an Emmy.  Eight years later, he returned to Blackside as co-executive producer/producer of Hampton's last documentary series I'll Make Me A World: Stories of African-American Artists and Community.  For the series, Pollard received The George Peabody Award.  Between 1990 and 2000, Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee's films:  Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, Bamboozled.  As well, Pollard and Lee co-produced a couple of documentary productions for the small and big screen: Spike Lee Presents Mike Tyson, a biographical sketch for HBO for which Mr. Pollard received an Emmy, and Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1965 Birmingham church bombings which was nominated for an Academy Award.

Pollard began this journey in 1972 as an apprentice in a WNET-sponsored film-training workshop.  Under the tutelage of a number of veterans in independent filmmaking, he spent the remainder of the 1970s polishing his editing skills on everything from celebrity profiles to Dateline: Israel, a film series about the history of Jerusalem.  His feature experience as an editor started in the mid-1970s with films like Just Crazy About Horses, Body and Soul, Private Resort and Style Wars.  In between films, throughout the 1980s, he edited for the highly acclaimed children's programs NBC's Vegetable Soup and The Children's Television Workshop's 3-2-1-Contact for which he received two Emmys.  In the early 1990s, there was Fires In The Mirror, a performance art film directed by George Wolfe, starring Anna Deveare Smith.  In 1993, he produced for The American Experience a documentary called, Goin' Back to T-Town, about life in a Black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma, during legal segregation.  From time to time, he serves on advisory committees for the National Endowment for the Humanities; National Endowment for the Arts; or the Independent Television Service (ITVS).

Sponsoring department:

Educational Opportunity Program

A special thank you to the Milwaukee Film Festival. For more information on the fest, visit

About the Forum

Marquette University is launching a yearlong series of inclusive conversations, bringing experts of national renown together with those from the Marquette and Milwaukee communities.

Inspired by visions of inclusion and a better world emerging from Black freedom struggles, we hope to look with new eyes at the challenges that inequality presents at the national level and within Milwaukee. As a Catholic, Jesuit university committed to social justice, we seek to energize our campus and engage all Milwaukee’s communities by asking, “What is your freedom dream now?”

This site will be updated throughout the academic year as we add events to our schedule.