HBO Documentary Shares The Loving Story

Through never-before-seen footage and photos, meet the interracial couple whose love took them all the way to the Supreme Court

The Lovings

Tucked within the great stories of the Civil Rights era in the United States are the Lovings. Richard and Mildred were two Virginians who fell in love and wanted to get married. However, Richard was a White man, Mildred was a half-Black, half-Native American woman, and it was 1958. Their marriage was declared illegal, the two were arrested on their honeymoon night and subsequently exiled. The Lovings would spend the next nine years fighting the legal system all for the priviledge to go back home to Virginia as husband and wife.

Premiering on Valentine's Day 2012, a new HBO documentary follows their love story. Beliefnet interviewed the director and producer Nancy Buirski on how the film came to be and what it means today.

What made you take on this project?

I read Mildred Loving’s obituary in The New York Times in May of 2008. I was struck by how little I knew of this couple and their pivotal civil rights role. But it was also a profound love story with enormous relevance in today’s society. It falls right into the nexus of conversations on racial identity and marriage equality. We were watching a mixed-race candidate vying for the highest office in the land. It seemed like their case made this possible!

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Where did all the video footage and photos come from?

I excavated the video footage in 2009. It was produced by Hope Ryden and shot by Abbot Mills. Ryden had the foresight and sensitivity to understand the value of what the Lovings were going through.  As a cinema verité filmmaker, she was able to capture these regular people going about the business of their lives – not protesting or trying to change history. Grey Villet’s remarkable pictures were shot for a LIFE Magazine essay – only 9 were used at the time. The rest were given to the Lovings, and Peggy Loving gave them to us to use in the film. They opened the door to the “love” story; he captured the intimacy of this noble couple in his images.

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