1h22m | Directed by Sam Pollard | USA | Documentary, biography, music
- Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
- Asbury Park Music in Film Fest
- Sheffield Doc|Fest
- March on Washington Film Festival
- Traverse City Film Festival
- Vancouver International Film Festival
- New York Film Festival
Two Trains Runnin’ is about the search for two forgotten blues singers, set in Mississippi during the height of the civil rights movement.
In June of 1964 hundreds of college students, eager to join the civil rights movement, traveled to Mississippi, starting what would be known as Freedom Summer.
That same month, two groups of young men—made up of musicians, college students and record collectors—also traveled to Mississippi. Though neither group was aware of the other, each had come on the same errand: to find an old blues singer and coax him out of retirement. Thirty years before, Son House and Skip James had recorded some of the most memorable music of their era, but now they seemed lost to time.
Finding them would not be easy. There were few clues to their whereabouts. It was not even known for certain if they were still alive. And Mississippi, that summer, was a tense and violent place. With hundreds on their way to teach in freedom schools and work on voter registration, the Ku Klux Klan and police force of many towns vowed that Freedom Summer would not succeed. Churches were bombed, shotguns blasted into cars and homes.
It was easy to mistake the young men looking for Son House and Skip James as activists. Finally, on June 21, 1964, these two campaigns collided in memorable and tragic fashion.
Two Trains Runnin’ not only pays tribute to a pioneering generation of musicians. The movie cuts to the heart of our present moment, offering a crucial vantage from which to view the evolving dynamics of race in America. (c) Abramorama
Featuring Gary Clark Jr., Buddy Guy, Jimbo Mathus, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Valerie June, Chris Thomas King, Jimbo Mathus, North Mississippi Allstars, and Lucinda Williams.
This captivating movie, like the blues itself, is at once a recognition of … somber truths and a gesture of protest against them.
A.O. Scott | New York Times | Full Review
As we watch these once-marginalized artists thrillingly bring their past to bear on tense times, so does this look-and-listen complement the urgency of our newly charged civil rights moment.
Robert Abele | Los Angeles Times | Full Review
A powerful meditation on the origins of an African-American musical genre and the painful reasons for its existence.
Odie Henderson | RogerEbert.com | Full Review