A documentary from filmmaker and comedian W. Kamau Bell will explore the crimes of Bill Cosby and how his desire for power both earned him international success and drove him to commit his multitude of alleged crimes against women.
Titled We Need to Talk About Cosby, the doco will contrast the performer, philanthropist and role model that made up Cosby’s public persona for decades with the accused sexual predator that now defines him.
“Can you separate the art from the artist? Should you even try? While there are many people about whom we could ask those questions, none pose a tougher challenge than Bill Cosby,” the documentary’s synopsis states.
“As a child of Bill Cosby, I was a huge fan of all his shows and wanted to be a comedian because of him,” said Bell. “I never thought I’d ever wrestle with who we all thought Cosby was and who we now understand him to be. I’m not sure he would want me to do this work, but Cliff Huxtable definitely would.”
The film first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, before being shown on the US cable network Showtime. In Australia, the four-part documentary will be available to stream on Paramount+ from Sunday, February 6.
Cosby, who was accused by 60 different women of rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, or other sexual misconduct, served just three years of the three to 10-year sentence that was handed down to him in 2018, after being found guilty of aggravated indecent assault against Andrea Constand.
The comedian’s alleged crimes date as far back as the 1960s, but by the time they came to light in 2015, the statute of limitations had run out for many of his victims.
In his prime, Cosby was one of TV’s most loved figures, even earning himself the nickname “America’s Dad” thanks to his role as Dr Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show. The series, which ran for eight seasons, spent five consecutive seasons as the number-one-rated show on television while also breaking racial stereotypes by portraying a Black family as upper-middle-class and successful.
The sitcom paved the way for future shows that featured a predominantly Black cast such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
The doc will feature never-before-seen archival footage of the intriguing artist and contains over two decades of material for fans to enjoy. The project comes from Clarence “Coodie” Simmons and Chike Ozah, aka Coodie and Chike who co-directed Kanye’s 2003 Through the Wire video and the third version of Jesus Walks.