“Judas and the Black Messiah” Director Shaka King on Fred Hampton, the Black Panthers & COINTELPRO

A highly anticipated new feature film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated…

A highly anticipated new feature film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” tells the story of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, the FBI informant who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panther Party to collect information that ultimately led to Hampton’s killing in 1969 by law enforcement officers. The film is premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and stars Daniel Kaluuya as Hampton, LaKeith Stanfield as O’Neal and Martin Sheen as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Shaka King, the film’s director and co-writer, says focusing on Hampton and O’Neal was a way “to make ‘The Departed’ inside the world of COINTELPRO,” referring to the decades-long illegal FBI program to undermine Black and radical political organizations. “I just thought that that was a very clever vessel and intelligent way to Trojan-horse a Fred Hampton biopic.”

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