I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO

★★★★

A POWERFUL PROFILE OF THREE INFLUENTIAL MEN

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Jake Watt
26th June 2017

"To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time."

Based on African-American writer James Baldwin's unfinished manuscript 'Remember This House', the documentary 'I Am Not Your Negro' explores the history of racism in the United States through Baldwin's reminiscences of civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as his personal observations of American history.

James Baldwin was born in 1924 and raised in Harlem. Disillusioned and frustrated by the treatment of blacks in post-World War II America, he moved to Paris, but returned to the U.S. in 1957 to do what he could to help in the intensifying struggle for civil rights. Baldwin, although a literary giant and a close friend of many leading activists, rarely appeared at events and mass rallies, and declined membership in parties or groups such as the NAACP, Panthers and SNCC. Although he was homosexual, he rarely focused on the issue of gay rights, which would have been on the outermost fringes of the activist movement in those decades.

'I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO' TRAILER

Haitian-born director Raoul Peck ('The Man by the Shore', 'The Young Karl Marx') received privileged access to the Baldwin archives because the family admired his work on the 1990 political thriller 'Lumumba: Death of a Prophet' and the 2000 award winning drama on the same subject, 'Lumumba'. Using narration from Samuel L. Jackson ('Kong: Skull Island', 'The Hateful Eight') to embody the spirit of Baldwin in the potent narration, the film's structure utilises rare videos and photos as well as personal writings of Baldwin, and at the same time aligning them with contemporary issues of police brutality and race relations. We see Baldwin on screen periodically throughout the movie in archival footage from his speeches, academic lectures and appearances on TV talk shows. Much of the history referenced in the film is illustrated through news footage from the 1960s and many of the points made by Baldwin and/or Peck are made through depictions of blacks and whites in movies and TV shows and commercials. This creates a mesmerising awareness of the continuity in the struggle for civil rights.

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ digs into the unhealed wound of racism, prejudice and oppression unapologetically and forces us to take a hard look at what oozes out.

Intelligent editing by Sam Pollard builds a meaningful cultural bridge between the 1960s and our current decade. The soundtrack, which opens with Buddy Guy's 'Damn Right I Got the Blues' and concludes with Kendrick Lamar's 'The Blacker the Berry' in the closing credits, is fantastic.

This is more than simply the story of a man looking at three men who inspired him and whose deaths caused him intense pain. 'I Am Not Your Negro' digs into the unhealed wound of racism, prejudice and oppression unapologetically and forces us to take a hard look at what oozes out.

Looking for more Sydney Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
RELATEDPOP AYENot your normal road trip movie
RELATEDPHANTOM BOYAn affecting animation full of warmth
RELATEDINSYRIATEDEscaping war within a personal prison
RELATEDSPOOKERSA real horror show
RELATEDPULSEAn ambitious Australian body swap story
RELATEDGAME OF DEATHUnoriginal and unexciting
RELATEDROLLER DREAMSThe retro roots of roller skating
RELATEDGRADUATIONThe role of a parent left unexplored
RELATEDWHITNEY: CAN I BE MEAn enthralling, heartbreaking tale
RELATEDTHE OTHER SIDE OF HOPECharming and poetic
RELATEDTO STAY ALIVE: A METHODThe pain of art
RELATEDMISTER UNIVERSOJoin the circus
RELATEDLIBERATION DAYThe hills of North Korea are alive with the sound of music
RELATEDTHE WOUNDDefining masculinity
RELATED78/52A blow-by-blow account of 'Psycho's' shower scene
RELATEDUNAA dull, banal and woefully misguided male fantasy
RELATEDBRIGSBY BEARPaws-itively pure, authentic joy
RELATEDELLIPSISFails to come full circle
RELATEDAMA-SANDive in to a fascinating tradition
RELATEDLADY MACBETHBeautifully hypnotic and unsettling
RELATEDPARIS CAN WAITFood, France and frivolity
RELATEDNEWTONDark political comedy a winning formula
RELATEDWAITING FOR GIRAFFESA tall order for an impossible zoo
RELATEDSPOORA dark thriller with bite
RELATEDWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
RELATEDKING OF THE BELGIANSA royal road trip
RELATEDSAINT GEORGEA knockout lead performance
RELATEDTHAT'S NOT MEA marvel of indie ingenuity
RELATEDLAST MEN IN ALEPPOA heartbreaking, unmissable documentary
RELATEDAFTERIMAGEReality askew
RELATEDTHE WALLGripping but thin
RELATEDTHE PINK HOUSEMeet Kalgoorlie's ladies of the night
RELATEDWIND RIVERLeaves you cold
RELATEDTHE FARTHESTA tribute to Voyager 40 years on
RELATEDBARBECUEGrills run the world
RELATEDA MODERN MANA model life
RELATEDBLADE OF THE IMMORTALA gloriously violent film
RELATEDPACMENThe rise and fall of Ben Carson
RELATEDPATTI CAKE$Off track
RELATEDCHICKEN PEOPLEThe pecking order in poultry breeding
RELATEDMY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINIA refreshing animation
RELATEDOKJASpectacularly over-the-top
TRENDINGWIN AFTER THE WEDDINGMichelle Williams & Julianne Moore's glamorous outing
TRENDINGWIN THE KEEPERTrue story of WWII prisoner to soccer superstar
TRENDINGWIN PROMISEDLove is never perfectly arranged
TRENDINGWIN BALLOONCourage takes flight
TRENDINGWIN BRITISH FILM FESTIVAL 2019Your ticket to the hottest festival in town
TRENDINGPROMISEDFlashback to Australian-Italians in the 1970s is a bland affair
© 2011 - 2019 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us