Private Project

Truth Underground

Three spoken word poets struggle through poverty, discrimination, PTSD and abandonment to prove the power of the word. When Kamaya Martin’s father abandons her mother with four kids and bills she can't pay, Kamaya finds a creative outlet through her spoken word poetry, which leads to international team competitions in Chicago and Philadelphia. CJ Suitt uncovers his identity as a black male when he is inspired by his high school teacher to write and speak poetry. After marine veteran Jeremy Berggren loses his best friend and fellow soldier to suicide, he is haunted by what he knows about war and military life. He takes his country to task and calls for veteran support through his art. Follow along as these diverse portraits intersect through the medium of poetry.

  • Gerret Warner
    Bayman, Polly Hill and Her Arboretum
  • Mimi Gredy
    Executive Producer
  • Jessie Warner
  • Ned Phillips
    Director of Photography
  • Gerret Warner
  • Ned Phillips
  • Mimi Gredy
  • Gerret Warner
  • Ned Phillips
  • Jeremy Berggren
    Key Cast
  • CJ Suitt
    Key Cast
  • Kamaya Truitt-Martin
    Key Cast
  • Southern Documentary Fund
    Fiscal sponsor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 8 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 6, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    28,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital: Canon 60D, iphone 5
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Cucalorus Film Festival
    Wilmington, NC
    United States
    November 13, 2016
    North American Premiere
  • Global Cinema Film Festival of Boston
    Belmont, MA
    United States
    March 11, 2017
    Best Feature Documentary
  • Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
    Sebastopol, CA
    United States
    March 24, 2017
  • RiverRun International Film Festival
    Winston-Salem, NC
    United States
    April 8, 2017
  • Charlotte Film Festival
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    United States
    September 30, 2017
Distribution Information
  • Films Media Group
Director Biography - Gerret Warner

Gerret is a partner with his wife, Mimi Gredy, at Warner & Company (, an award-winning producer of films about education, culture and the arts. Their work includes documentaries as well as films for college recruitment and fundraising; art exhibitions and museums. Among their clients are Smith, Stanford and Yale; Martha’s Vineyard Museum; The Culinary Institute of America; Stop Hunger Now and New England Dancing Masters.

The son of folk song collectors and documentarians Anne and Frank Warner, Gerret grew up on collecting trips to rural parts of America, watching his parents document rural singers and seeing how his father’s concert audiences responded to the songs, stories and photographs of singers. Alan Lomax called the Warners’ work “a continuous act of unpaid, tender devotion to American folk song and a life-long love affair with the people who remembered the ballads.”

A grant from Duke University during his senior year allowed him to make a short film about Durham, North Carolina’s Union Station, and that planted the seed that led him to New York's Videotape Center where he produced scripted corporate videos, PSAs and commercials… and dreamed of alternatives. Later, after teaching guitar, then film and English, he and Mimi founded their company modeled on his parents' intimate style of documentation and respect for their subjects, producing films in their subjects' voices, without storyboard or script.

Gerret's documentaries explore themes of art, identity and continuity across generations: "Bayman," about a fisherman working with 19th century tools on the Great South Bay of Long Island; "Polly Hill and Her Arboretum," about a legendary horticulturist on Martha's Vineyard; and "Vollis Simpson, Junkyard Artist," documenting an ingenious mechanic and whirligig artist in Wilson, North Carolina.

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Director Statement

The first time I heard spoken word poetry was at an open mic at a local bookstore. Right away I was overwhelmed by the courage and intensity in the room. It wasn't only the performers. The audience was just as much a part of the event, snapping approval, rubbing hands together to send warmth to a poet forgetting words. It was a new world for me. And I was reminded of poetry's power to say things we won't or can't say.

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself/And what I assume you shall assume/For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." —Walt Whitman

Art begins with optimism. It’s an act of faith in a shared humanity, that what has meaning for me may touch you too. However solitary the creation, the act is communal. That evening in the bookstore led to our documentary about the art and lives of three spoken word poets as they try to find meaning in a hostile world and share their brave truths.