Black Hollywood: Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes

  • Tuesday, April 30, 2024 / 7:00 PM - 9:15 PM (PDT)
  • Pollock Theater
  • Screening Format: Digital projection (82 minutes)
  • With Sam Pollard (director)

Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes chronicles the life of iconoclast Max Roach, a jazz musician, bebop pioneer, and accomplished composer. Directed by Sam Pollard as part of PBS’s American Masters documentary series, the film delves into how the inequities of the twentieth century inspired and challenged Roach’s far-reaching ambitions. Through a wealth of archival footage and interviews, the documentary paints a rich portrait of Roach’s stunningly diverse seven-decade career, showcasing him as a musical luminary and cultural activist during periods of heightened racial injustice. Pollard explores Roach’s complex legacy, tracing his legendary achievements, personal struggles, and the toll exacted for his outspoken views from the 1940s to the Civil Rights era. The film’s fascinating engagement with music and activism through the underexplored life of Max Roach offers a unique perspective on the intersection of art and politics throughout American history.

As part of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Black Hollywood series, we were delighted to welcome director Sam Pollard, who joined moderator Wendy Eley Jackson for a post-screening discussion of Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes and Pollard’s remarkable career as a documentary filmmaker.


Filmmaker Sam Pollard appears against a light background looking toward the right side of the frame. He is wearing a black hat, black glasses, and an orange jacket.

Director Sam Pollard

Sam Pollard is an accomplished feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director. Between 1990 and 2010, Mr. Pollard edited a number of Spike Lee’s films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. Mr. Pollard and Mr. Lee co-produced a number of documentary productions for the small and big screen: Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1963 Birmingham church bombings, which was nominated for an Academy Award, and When The Levees Broke, a four-part documentary that won numerous awards, including a Peabody and three Emmy Awards. In 2010, he co-produced and supervised the edit on the follow up to Levees: If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise.

Since 2012 Mr. Pollard has completed the following films as a producer/director: Slavery By Another Name, a ninety-minute documentary for PBS that was in competition at the Sundance Festival; August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, a ninety-minute documentary in 2015 for American Masters; Two Trains Runnin,’ a feature-length documentary in 2016 that premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival, and Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me for American Masters, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2019 Mr. Pollard co-directed the six-part series Why We Hate, which premiered on The Discovery Channel. In 2020 he was one of the directors on the HBO series Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. He also completed in 2020 MLK/FBI, which premiered at the 2020 Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival. In 2021 HBO premiered two of his films: Black Art: In the Absence of Light and Citizen Ashe.

Wendy's Headshot

Moderator Wendy Eley Jackson

Wendy Eley Jackson is a distinguished writer, director, and producer in the television and film industry. She serves as a lecturer in Film and Media Studies at UC Santa Barbara. Ms. Eley Jackson’s remarkable portfolio of work includes the Hallmark Channel television movie Napa Ever After, and the award-winning documentaries Welcome to Pine Lake for CBS and Paramount+ and Carterland for Amazon Prime. She has been recognized for her producing skills, earning the esteemed Producers Guild Mark (p.g.a) for her work on the critically-acclaimed documentary Maynard on Netflix, directed by Academy Award nominee Sam Pollard. Her impactful directorial works, such as The Invitation, have garnered global attention on the festival circuit, and her work has been honored and archived in the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture. Currently, she is directing feature-length documentary projects like Protect and Serve with Martin Luther King III and The Other Roe, a story about Margie Pitts Hames and the landmark Supreme Court companion case to Roe v. Wade.

In addition to her creative endeavors, Ms. Eley Jackson is the visionary and founder of the Montecito Student Film Festival in Santa Barbara, which showcases student films from over sixty countries. She is the founder and principal of Auburn Avenue Films, which is recognized as a premier curator for content originating from Georgia and transitioning into Hollywood. Ms. Eley Jackson adapted the award-winning book 30 Days a Black Man: The Forgotten Story of Jim Crow for the screen. Additionally, she is the co-creator and co-screenwriter of Ella and Marilyn, a limited series produced by Robin Roberts, Linda Berman, and Emmy-winner and showrunner Debbie Allen.

This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center as part of its Black Hollywood series.

Black Hollywood

Black Hollywood is a new programming focus at the Carsey-Wolf Center at UC Santa Barbara, guest curated by Dr. Mireille Miller-Young (Department of Feminist Studies). Black Hollywood innovates new academic research and public-facing engagement projects focusing on the work of Black creators and technicians, as well as the histories of Black artists and stories. Addressing issues ranging from diversity in entertainment industry labor, to representations of race, gender, and intersectional identities, to questions of technology, democracy and law, Black Hollywood provides a platform for cutting edge questions, conversations, and tools for media professionals, academics, and wider publics.

CWC Docs

The Carsey-Wolf Center is committed to screening documentaries from across the world that engage with contemporary and historical issues, especially regarding social justice and environmental concerns. Documentaries allow filmmakers to address pressing issues and frame the critical debates of our time.