The Loving Story

2011     1 x 90/60 min     Color, B&W: HD     English

Director, Producer:
Nancy Buirski

Producer, Editor:
Elisabeth Haviland James

An Augusta Films production in association with HBO

Mildred Loving, part black and part Native American, and her white husband Richard were in bed in her parent’s modest house in a small Virginia town, early in the morning of July 11, 1958. They had been married for six weeks. The county sheriff and two deputies burst into their bedroom and shined flashlights into their eyes. A threatening voice demanded, “Who is this woman you’re sleeping with?” Mrs. Loving answered, “I’m his wife.” Mr. Loving pointed to the couple’s marriage certificate hanging on the bedroom wall. The sheriff responded, “That’s no good here.”

A heart-rending love story and a racially-charged criminal trial converge in this documentary about Richard and Mildred Loving, set during the turbulent Civil Rights era. The Lovings’ painful story is part of a compelling saga that plays out in rural towns and grimy jail cells and comes to a momentous climax in the halls of the US Supreme Court. With luminous, newly-discovered 16mm footage of the Lovings and their lawyers, first person testimony, rare documentary photographs and brief re-created narrative, this film takes us behind the scenes of the legal challenges and the emotional turmoil of the families, lawyers and judges at the heart of Loving v. Virginia, as a tense, personal drama unfolds.

Though taught in law schools and civil rights courses, the Lovings’ story it not widely known. With rare and surprisingly intimate archive, the film builds a complex portrait of the couple at the heart of modern notions of marriage equality. The lawyers of the groundbreaking case expertly place it in context for contemporary viewers, understanding that the Lovings’ story goes to the heart of all human rights and to the pursuit of happiness regardless of color, creed or sexuality.