What happened to Derek Black?

«What happened to Derek Black ?» is a story of hate, friendship, change.

Last year (2016) I was just about to come back to Switzerland after covering probably the craziest elections America will remember in a long time. I was in New York, sitting in a restaurant with a friend of mine. We started talking about topics that had characterized the campaign, while waiting for a Greek salad. That’s when I, or maybe she – who remembers? – brought up white nationalists and the support they gave to newly elected president Trump. From that we slipped into a discussion about fear and hate and how these primitive feelings are shaping up our present, not only in the States. I was on verge of being caught in despair, when Alba – my friend - recommended me some article she had read on the Washington Post a few weeks earlier. It was the story of a prominent white nationalist, doomed to lead the next generation of “professional” haters, who surprisingly turned his back to his family and his legacy after experiencing real friendship and compassion in college. The article was entitled “The White Flight of Derek Black” and I devoured it on the flight back, mesmerized by the story itself and the compelling writing ability of its author. As I got back I did some research, got deeper into the subject, also in the view of other key elections that took or will take place in Europe in 2017. To my great disappointment, I found out Derek doesn’t do media at the moment, so I looked for an alternative way to tell his story and came up with the three-chapter webdocumentary I present here, my personal flight into Derek’s world.

The first chapter depicts the extreme consequences hate can lead to and introduces Derek’s world, namely “Stormfront”, the white power forum created by his father Don years ago. The second describes Derek’s personality through the eyes of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the main institution in the States monitoring and fighting hate. The third chapter gets us in touch with Matthew Stevenson, Derek’s Jewish dormmate in college who triggered his change from prominent white nationalist to liberal values advocate.

  • Alessandro Chiara
  • Alessandro Chiara
  • Matilde Casasopra (RSI)
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Dov'è finito Derek Black?
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Web / New Media
  • Genres:
    Society, Politics
  • Runtime:
    14 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 13, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 CHF
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Italian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Alessandro Chiara

Born in 1974, Alessandro Chiara starts out as a musician and later works his way to journalism. At first for a specialized magazine addressing to drummers, in 2005, then for the third radio channel of the Swiss public broadcasting company (RSI Rete Tre). After winning a public competition in 2008, he switches to television and works for almost two years as an editor for “Latele”, a pilot Entertainment TV show. Once it gets shut down, he is assigned to RSI Information department, where he works for different news bulletins both at the first radio channel (RSI Rete Uno) and at the online newsroom, before landing in 2010 at the “Telegiornale” (main News TV show), where he is currently active as journalist, special correspondent and anchorman and in 2017 at “Infonotte”, the Night News TV show where he is presenter and chief editor. In 2011 he gets awarded the honorable mention (“menzione speciale”) of the Canevascini Prize for his radio documentary “Ramin Bahrami, una vita a scordare il piano”, on world- acclaimed classical Iranian pianist Ramin Bahrami. "What happened to Derek Black?" (“Dov’è finito Derek Black?”) is his first web-documentary.

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