Movie Review: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “I” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “I” documentaries I’ve reviewed are I Am Big Bird.

Title: I Am Not Your Negro
Release Date: September 10, 2016
DirectorRaoul Peck
Production Company: Velvet Film

On the surface, this is a documentary about the novelist, poet, and social critic James Baldwin, but peel back the layers and this is a remarkable achievement in pushing the boundaries of documentary film.  The film is an adaptation of an unpublished manuscript, Remember This House, written by Baldwin about his personal memories of three murdered Civil Rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  The voiceover text read by Samuel L. Jackson is entirely drawn from this work.

But even then there’s more to this movie as it is intercut with archival footage of James Baldwin’s television and public appearances, news footage, and scenes from movies that Baldwin critiques.  To highlight the relevance of Baldwin’s writings to our present times, the film also includes footage of recent protests and disturbances in Ferguson and Baltimore.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s a lot going on in this movie, yet it feels streamlined and logical in its arrangement.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

I Am Not Your Negro is a crucial education in the understanding of race in America and the ongoing effects of the original sins of white supremacy rooted in our country.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Read the works of James Baldwin, including The Fire Next Time. Ta-Nehisi Coates is in many ways the heir to Baldwin as social critic on race in America especially in his seminal work Between the World and Me.

Source: I watched this movie on Amazon Prime Video.

Rating: ****