Oscar-Nominated “I Am Not Your Negro” Opened Feb. 3
The director of the critically-acclaimed documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” said he hopes the film is a call to action for all Americans to confront the racism still afflicting the nation.
Raoul Peck said he felt that he “had no choice” but to make the movie, an autobiographical sketch of literary icon James Baldwin, the Civil Rights movement, and its parallels today.
“It’s not a game, this is the future of this country,” Peck told BOSSIP. “The film is sort of a last call, or we’re going down the drain like everybody else – including everyone in power.”
Told in Baldwin’s own words, the Oscar-nominated documentary is based on the author’s final manuscript about the intersecting lives of his three martyred friends: Medgar Evers, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
It’s also Baldwin’s unflinching commentary on race in America, using both archival footage from the last century cross cut with images of recent protests on police violence and the Black Lives Matter movement to tell his story.
“For me, first of all, it’s not just a film,” Peck said. “This is a confrontation with you, who you are, your country, your life, what you have become. Baldwin looks you in your eyes and says the future of this country is what we want it to be.”
The film is also a loving homage to Baldwin – considered to be one of the greatest American writers in history – showing his fiery oration at Oxford University and confronting a patronizing host on late night television.
“I felt that it was time that we go back to Baldwin, at a time when people were forgetting about him,” Peck said. “He is right up there with (William) Faulkner, one of the greatest writers in this country.”
Peck said it doesn’t matter what color you are, he wants the movie to help viewers understand the country’s racial backstory, and use that as a foundation to have honest conversations and action on race in America.
“You can’t be innocent anymore,” Peck said. “Nobody can go out of this movie and said I didn’t understand this world. I didn’t understand what America was. I didn’t understand that the American Dream was a myth.”