Wednesday, February 1st, 6:30pm
At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Presented by The Schomburg and the Cinema at the Maysles Documentary Center
A Free Community Preview In Honor of Black History Month
Raoul Peck, 2016, 95 min
Working from the text of James Baldwin’s unfinished final novel, director Raoul Peck (Lumumba, Death of a Prophet, Lumumba, Fatal Assistance, Murder in Pacot) creates a stunning meditation on what it means to be Black in America. In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his new endeavour: the writing of his final book, Remember This House, recounting the lives and successive assassinations of his friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin was not able to complete the book before his death, and the unfinished manuscript was entrusted to director Raoul Peck by the writer's estate.
Built exclusively around Baldwin's words, Peck's I Am Not Your Negro delves into the complex legacy of three lives (and deaths) that permanently marked the American social and political landscape. Framing the unfinished work as a radical narration about race in America, Peck matches Baldwin's lyrical rhetoric with rich archival footage of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and connects these historical struggles for justice and equality to the present-day movements that have taken shape in response to the killings of young African-American men including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and Amir Brooks.
Exploring what it means to be Black in America today, Peck reflects on the legacy of racial violence that still permeates the country. In Baldwin's words, "You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage: you never had to look at me; I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced." By revealing the deep connections between past and present injustice, I Am Not Your Negro weaves an epic narrative about America's irrational relationship with skin color — a relationship that would be absurd were it not so tragic.
Post film Q&A with Hebert Peck, I Am Not Your Negro producer and brother of director Raoul Peck. They are the first pair of Black siblings to be nominated for an Oscar. The Q&A will be moderated by writer, editor, stylist and activist Michaela Angela Davis.
A reception will follow the Q&A.
(The Oscar Nominated I Am Not Your Negro Opens Nationally Friday, February 3rd.)