When talking about former activists, few things are as disheartening as the label ‘still relevant today’. It’s indicative of repetition, of stagnation, of their hard work not being followed. The phrase means that their vision for the world hasn’t been achieved and that their battles drag on years, decades, or even centuries later.
I’m sure that most would rather have the battle won, but many, including writer James Baldwin, remain inspirational as generations pound against the same problems. Much of Baldwin’s work shed light on the latent forces that divide American culture, and in I Am Not Your Negro, his observations are again used to give context to and to comment upon the position of black Americans.
Director Raoul Peck uses Baldwin’s unfinished novel, “Remember This House”, as the basis for his award-wining documentary. Despite what you see in the trailer, footage of Baldwin does not make up the bulk of this film. Instead, Baldwin’s text is read over historical and present-day footage, with Samuel L. Jackson doing the narration honors. Even with the support of Jackson’s powerful voice, the film wouldn’t be able to grab modern audiences if Baldwin’s ideas didn’t remain challenging.
I Am Not Your Negro took home audience awards at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival. People are saying that we still have lessons to learn from Baldwin. He is still relevant today.
I Am Not Your Negro is directed by Raoul Peck and is narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. It will have a wide release in the U.S. on February 3rd, 2017. For international release dates, click here.
Do you think audiences will show up for a documentary with a confrontational title? Let us know in the comments!
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