Sammy Davis, Jr.: I've Gotta Be Me


Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7:30pm
Washington U./Brown

“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” is the first major documentary to examine Davis’ vast talent and his journey for identity through the shifting tides of civil rights and racial progress during 20th-century America. As Davis once stated: “I’m Puerto Rican, Jewish, colored, and married to a white woman. When I move into a neighborhood, people start running in four ways at the same time.” Davis had the kind of career that was indisputably legendary, so vast and multifaceted that it was dizzying in its scope and scale. And yet his life was complex and contradictory. Davis strove to achieve the American dream in a time of racial prejudice and shifting political territory, and he frequently found himself bracketed by the bigotry of white America and the distaste of black America. Featuring new interviews with such luminaries as Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, and Kim Novak, with never-before-seen photographs from Davis’ vast personal collection and excerpts from his electric performances, “Sammy Davis, Jr.” explores the life and art of a uniquely gifted entertainer. Filmmaker Sam Pollard, who receives SLIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award, also co-directed another film at the fest: “ACORN and the Firestorm.”

100 min.

Directed by

Sam Pollard

Film Category

Leon & Mary Strauss Documentary Spotlight Music Spotlight Race in America: The Black Experience


With director Pollard, SLIFF Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, and Gerald Early, Washington U. professor of English and Merle Kling professor of modern letters.

Sponsored by