[Blackstudies-l] TIFF ’16 REVIEW: RAOUL PECK REIGNITES THE DISCUSSION AROUND RACE RELATIONS IN “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO”

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Tue Sep 13 20:34:52 EDT 2016


ivetteromero posted: " Stephen Saito reviews Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your
Negro, highlighting that “revisiting James Baldwin's final unfinished novel
brings a fresh perspective to America's original sin.” The film does not
yet have U.S. distribution. The film was recently scree"
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New post on *Repeating Islands*
<http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/> TIFF ’16 REVIEW: RAOUL
PECK REIGNITES THE DISCUSSION AROUND RACE RELATIONS IN “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO”
<http://repeatingislands.com/2016/09/13/tiff-16-review-raoul-peck-reignites-the-discussion-around-race-relations-in-i-am-not-your-negro/>
by
ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>

*[image: iamnotyournegroraoulpeck]
<http://moveablefest.com/moveable_fest/author/admin>*

*Stephen Saito <http://moveablefest.com/moveable_fest/author/admin> reviews
Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro
<http://moveablefest.com/moveable_fest/2016/09/tiff-16-review-raoul-peck-reignites-the-discussion-around-race-relations-in-i-am-not-your-negro.html>,
highlighting that “revisiting James Baldwin's final unfinished novel brings
a fresh perspective to America's original sin.” The film does not yet have
U.S. distribution. The film was recently screened at the Toronto Film
Festival
<http://www.tiff.net/films/i-am-not-your-negro-or-remember-this-house/> and
will be screened once again on September 16, at 9:00pm at the Scotiabank 1
in Toronto, Canada.*

Ten years in the making, Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” yields a
breathtakingly beautiful experience from the ugliest part of American
history, detailing race relations and offering a unique perspective on the
civil rights movement through the words of James Baldwin. Taking its
narration from 30 pages of notes the great African-American writer and
social critic compiled for an unpublished book (“Remember This House”) that
would’ve relayed the black experience through the prism of three slain
civil rights leaders – Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers,
all of whom he knew personally – the film may be accurately described as an
essay, but unfurls with power only a cinematic treatment by a true master
of the form like Peck could afford.

Cinema is also the only form that would do justice to Baldwin’s ruminations
on the image of the black American, particularly as portrayed in the
popular media. Accompanied by gripping, lived-in narration from Samuel L.
Jackson – his voice almost conspiratorial as if he’s slung his arm around
your shoulder – the film is incredibly intimate with Baldwin seamlessly
blending his personal history into a greater historical sweep. Recalling
how he saw the Joan Crawford musical “Dance Fools Dance” at the age of 7
and describing a black woman at the local store as looking just like her, a
notion that was only confusing when he realized that white people could
never make the same indistinction, his journey as a black man and how he
feels he’s seen by the eyes of the white majority frequently refers to
other films to note the differing perspectives, making such trenchant
observations as how white liberals could be counted on to cheer when Sidney
Poitier leapt off the train with Tony Curtis in “The Defiant Ones,” but
black audiences would roar, “Stay on the train.”

The continual vibrancy of Baldwin’s ideas is underscored by Peck’s
intricate consideration of every frame of film. Though relying on archival
material, the filmmakers appear to have taken great pains to present
footage that has barely appeared anywhere else, if at all, whether it is a
major public event such as the 1957 desegregation of Central High School in
Little Rock or recordings of Baldwin culled from his personal archives,
provided exclusively by his estate. Modern-day imagery created by
cinematographers Henry Adebonojo and Bill and Turner Ross (“Contemporary
Color”) achieve a poetry equal to Baldwin’s words, with scenes of Times
Square and swamplands to elevate the author’s descriptions of places he’s
traveled across America into the present tense, and in sharp, digital
clarity, to match his piercing eloquence.

With references to the Black Lives Matter movement, Ferguson and even a nod
to the political rise of Donald Trump, the film is unquestionably timely,
but doesn’t speak to this moment specifically so much as to ignite an
ongoing discussion, recognizing the tip-toeing around the subject of race
will only let the issues around it to continue to persist. If anything, the
opportunity to hear a voice as bold as Baldwin’s, as well as seeing clips
of talk shows of the 1960s and ’70s when a panel could include the writer,
Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando and Harry Belafonte, among others, and have
the air time to openly talk about race relations, makes it feel as if we’ve
regressed in public discourse, even after the election of our first
African-American president. Fortunately, the urgent and vital “I Am Not
Your Negro” is likely going to be a conversation starter for a long time to
come.

For original review, see http://moveablefest.com/
moveable_fest/2016/09/tiff-16-review-raoul-peck-reignites-
the-discussion-around-race-relations-in-i-am-not-your-negro.html

Also see previous posts https://repeatingislands.com/
2016/08/23/new-film-by-raoul-peck-i-am-not-your-negro/ and
https://repeatingislands.com/2016/06/24/raoul-pecks-
documentary-on-james-baldwin/
*ivetteromero <http://repeatingislands.com/author/ivetteromero/>* |
September 13, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Tags: Haiti
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=haiti>, Haitian cinema
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=haitian-cinema>, Haitian filmmakers
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=haitian-filmmakers>, I Am Not Your Negro
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=i-am-not-your-negro>, James Baldwin
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=james-baldwin>, Raoul Peck
<http://repeatingislands.com/?tag=raoul-peck> | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/?cat=103> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-qQN

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