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The Nine Lives of Marion Barry

Dana Flor, Toby Oppenheimer

Free screening co-curated by local filmmaker, activist, and oracle Dawne Langford!

Many people remember Marion Barry as the philandering drug-addled mayor, the one who famously uttered the phrase “bitch set me up” as he was arrested during an FBI sting in 1990. He’s the poster boy for corruption, a pariah who will never be forgiven for bringing shame on the nation’s capital.

Yet to others, Marion Barry is a folk hero. Hailed as a civil rights champion and defender of the poor, he’s the man who transformed Washington D.C. from a sleepy southern town into a political stronghold of Black America. Barry’s soaring achievements, catastrophic failures and phoenix-like rebirths have made him a symbol of mythic indestructibility.

From the Mississippi cotton fields to the corridors of power, Barry has weathered drug and alcohol addiction, cancer, 4 marriages, jail time, and political extinction to dominate Washington D.C. city politics for more than 40 years.

With unprecedented access, The Nine Lives of Marion Barry tells the continuing saga of this despised, beloved, and resilient politician. It’s a potent story of race, power, sex, and drugs; the tale of a complex and contradictory man who is the star of one of the most fascinating and bizarre chapters of American politics.


DANA FLOR | Director/ProducerDana Flor grew up in the Washington D.C. area. She wrote and directed the Emmy award-winning documentary “Latinos in Beisbol”, and the Emmy-nominated documentary “Cesar Chavez” for NBC. Among her projects, she wrote and produced the two-hour special “True Stories of the NYPD” for the History Channel and “Latin Jazz-The Perfect Combination” for America’s Jazz Heritage and the Smithsonian Institute. In addition, she’s covered a wide-range of stories for National Geographic, Reuters Television, CNN, and others—covering breaking news throughout Latin America and around the world. The Nine Lives of Marion Barry is Flor’s first feature documentary.

TOBY OPPENHEIMER | Director/ProducerToby Oppenheimer was born and raised in the Washington D.C. area. For the past 10 years, he has been based in New York City as a director, producer, and cinematographer. He co-produced Devil’s Playground, the Emmy-nominated documentary film about Amish teenagers that premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. He directed The Cult of Cindy, an hour-long documentary film about the woman who’s had the world’s most cosmetic surgeries, for the AMC Project. In addition, he has directed, produced, and shot numerous documentaries on a wide range of subjects for The Sundance Channel, A&E, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, VH1, Bravo and others. The Nine Lives of Marion Barry is his first feature documentary.


“A no-holds-barred, deeply touching look at the career of the former mayor of Washington…by Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer [that cuts] Barry no slack…yet also manages to see him as a human being rather than just the profane, night-vision green figure viewed by millions in an FBI sting video smoking crack cocaine in the hotel room of a woman who wasn’t his wife.” —BALTIMORE SUN

“No screenwriter would dare dream up the rise and fall of Marion Barry. You can’t make this up. Which is why The Nine Lives of Marion Barry is such addictive viewing…Flor and Oppenheimer give us a superb look at the multiple lives of Barry. The story…is mesmerizing.” —BOSTON GLOBE

“The genius of the film is the storytelling through Barry himself and his now deceased wife Effi Barry.” —THE DAILY VOICE

“Marion Barry: Washington DC councilman, mayor, womanizer, drug abuser, convict, punch line, viewed from a safe distance…however crazy his private life has become, he has been continually returned to office…People like him because his troubles look like theirs.” —LA TIMES

“The rise and fall (and rise and fall and rise—how many is that?) of Marion Barry is a story worth telling…This is a riveting history.” —NEWSDAY

“Love Barry or hate him, it’s a remarkable tale… Flor and Oppenheimer have done a fine job of letting it tell itself.” – NY DAILY NEWS


  • 2/20 | 8:00PM