Oscar nominee Tod Lending’s latest documentary, “Rosevelt’s America,” has its broadcast premiere in a standalone screening on national PBS April 25. It plays locally at 10:30 p.m. on Ch. 11.
“Rosevelt’s America” tells the tale of Rosevelt Henderson, a refugee of Liberia’s civil war and father of three struggling to make it in North Chicago.
Lending first began filming Henderson in 2001 as one of several other stories for New York filmmaker Roger Weisberg’s PBS doc “Waging a Living,” about the challenges facing America’s working poor.
“Rosevelt had a very heavy accent when he first came here, and he needed to be subtitled, which made him stand out from the other people in the film,” Lending said. “Roger wanted to drop Rosevelt’s story. I begged Roger to keep him.”
“We were looking for hopeful stories of working poor people driven to make it, who rise above their difficult situations and break stereotypes. Here was an African man essentially living as a single father?his wife was still in Liberia. He’d been tortured there and two of his fingers had been chopped up.
“Here was this story of survival, of trying to keep his family intact, and it was loaded with interesting dramatic situations.”