“Cinematic poetry. Fascinating. Suspenseful. Visually engrossing. Intellectually bracing. An exemplary historical documentary…. As timely as an alarm clock.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Acutely relevant. Couldn’t be more timely. This film seems like one of the most urgent titles… this year.”
“Artfully assembled. It may be the best of this year’s very impressive slate. Illuminates the darkest, most insidious corners of American power and racism—past and present.”
“Insightful. Seethes with despair and distrust. The film is a sobering watch and a timely reminder that King’s struggle for racial justice wasn’t straightforward, nor is it close to complete…. An important corrective to prevailing myths about King. [Director Sam] Pollard’s film makes clear that the FBI’s surveillance of King—and, by extension, of other Black activists throughout U.S. history—reflects a paranoia that’s foundational to American politics.”
“Illuminating and infuriating. Draws uncanny parallels to current social turmoil ad the continued fight for equality at a time when it seems necessary to hear King’s words again.”
“Superb. Powerhouse doc. Rewarding. Meticulously damning… The brilliance of MLK/FBI lies in how effortlessly conversant it manages to be with the injustices of the present, without ever deviating from the injustices of the past.”
Los Angeles Times
“Arriving with… urgency, Sam Pollard’s documentary… paint[s] a damning picture of fear and prejudice backed up by institutional might.”
“Expertly made. A finely tuned, perfectly edited film, one that builds to a remarkably current chapter about the power and need for legal protest.”
“Essential. A potent cautionary tale. The documentary’s greatest strength is how it connects to our current moment is how the status quo fights to keep things the same for those in power.”
“Riveting. The presence of pro-institution, anti-Black, and anti-communist propaganda still shapes American society to this day.”
“Eye-opening and jaw-dropping. Could not have arrived at a more pertinent moment.”
“Illuminating and infuriating.”
The Boston Globe
“Incendiary. A sinister soap opera of espionage.”
“Stingingly resonant... amid a resurgent movement against police brutality and racial inequity, and a new generation of protesters targeted by state violence.”
The Daily Beast
Town & Country
“Engrossing. Scathing. Between the violent tap downs of Black Lives Matter protests, and the kidnapping of protestors in unmarked vans, it feels life we are repeating history. Pollard's MLK/FBI is... a critical chapter that should be imprinted inside every white American's heart. Especially right now.”
“Masterful. Absorbing. Remarkable.”
The Toronto Globe & Mail
“Connects the dots between then and now.”
“Searing. At a time when King’s legacy seems irrevocably sanitized by the white establishment that he died fighting against, any work that digs deeper into his life is an act of rebellion. MLK/FBI goes even further than Selma, implicating the entire white political establishment for being threatened by King as a leader and a man. MLK/FBI indeed serves as a chilling reminder that white supremacy is… a cruelty baked into the fabric of our political system, poisoning it at every level. Change comes when we allow ourselves to challenge the stories we have been told about our history.”
Jourdain Searles, The Hollywood Reporter
“Exquisitely constructed, deeply unnerving. [The film’s] power lies in resuscitating the past with vivid, immersive immediacy. It builds a world, and once we’re in it, takes us on a potent and unforgettable emotional journey. Archival footage of anti-King demonstrators spouting lies they’ve uncritically accepted about the Baptist minister bear an uncanny resemblance to scenes of Americans who today believe that Democrats and their leaders worship Satan, traffic children and stole the 2020 election.”
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
“Riveting. Considering the insurrection [at the U.S. Capitol] and the lenient treatment of domestic white terrorists versus the violent and unjust treatment of brown and Black activists that participated in Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd, MLK/FBI couldn’t be any more timely.”
“Astonishing. Illuminating. Remarkably layered. It’s an argument for the humanity of our revolutionaries, flaws and all.”
Tribune News Service
“[Director Sam] Pollard forbids you to relax.”
The New Yorker
“MLK/FBI humanizes a civil rights icon. An immersive historical play-by-play.”
“[A tale of] the battle of two Americas—still raging.”
“Fascinating. A dazzling visual collage. Ultimately, the documentary tells a larger story of how dissent is punished in the United States, and how white power structures perpetually prop themselves up. (Welcome to 2021.)”
“It’s the perfect film to watch early in 2021 — an examination of government overreach, entertainment’s effects on American imaginations, and how little has changed in the way that establishment voices so often try to silence Black activists.”
“[Director Sam Pollard] has become arguably the preeminent documentarian of the civil rights era, … making him the ideal measured voice for this thorny subject.”
The Austin Chronicle
“Patient. Thoughtful. Clear—and frightening.”
“Incisive. Exceptional. Methodically constructed. Quietly searing. To watch MLK/FBI days after a seditionist insurrection—fueled by the same institutionalized hatred that empowered the KKK at the peak of its atrocious influence—washes away any absurd impression that things have meaningfully changed."
The A.V. Club
“Elegantly cinematic. A hugely important re-education."
“As this film so powerfully demonstrates, [Dr. King] forced a reckoning with America’s racial history that, more than ever, resonates today."
Christian Science Monitor
“The illuminating new documentary MLK/FBI… should be a wake-up call about what white America thought of King in his time—as well as what white America thinks of social uprisings taking place today."
“Sharp and unsparing."
The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
“Nuanced and riveting. Brilliantly edited."
I Paper (U.K.)
“The protest, mistrust and bad faith flowing around America over the last year has made Pollard’s new documentary, MLK/FBI, even more pertinent."
“Expansive and humane…. MLK/FBI also sparks questions about the state of the FBI today, especially in the wake of the Jan. 6 white supremacist attack on the U.S. Capitol."
“Stunning. Perfectly directed. The perfect film to watch in these turbulent times."
“MLK/FBI couldn’t have arrived at a more precipitous reckoning in the nation’s history—particularly given the attempted coup. MLK/FBI… refers us back to a moment when the human rights of Americans and the Constitution were flagrantly violated by national police forces and the standing president. MLK/FBI’s transparent resonance with present-day, government-sponsored anti-Blackness and unconstitutional assaults on lawful dissent is superbly framed and crafted, and undeniably astute."
Helena Independent Record
“Life-changing documentary. Searing. Devastating."