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I am Not Your Negro @ RWC20: James Baldwin redux

Note: If you are using the Meetup app, click the "read more" link below to expand the full entry.

Meet in the theater, around 2:40 PM. I'll waive a Meetup sign periodically to help you find the group.

If you want to go for a bite and a chat after the show, note "dinner" in the comments below, so we can gauge interest. If there's enough interest, gather near the windows on the upper lobby, after the movie. 

Show time: 2:55 PM 

A movie that won't be screening at the White House anytime soon, despite its Oscar nomination for Best Documentary...

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, Remember This House. The book was to be a revolutionary, personal account of the lives and successive assassinations of three of his close friends-Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time of Baldwin's death in 1987, he left behind only thirty completed pages of his manuscript. Now, in his incendiary new documentary, master filmmaker Raoul Peck envisions the book James Baldwin never finished. The result is a radical, up-to-the-minute examination of race in America, using Baldwin's original words and a flood of rich archival material. (95 mins.)

Scores a perfect 100% in Rotten Tomatoes' Top Critics review survey.

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  • Steven

    By chance, I switched on KQED/TV
    late last night and saw "Take This
    Hammer", a documentary of James
    Baldwin's visit to San Francisco
    during the early 1960s, some clips
    from which appear in "I Am Not
    Your Negro" (eg: shots of Baldwin
    riding in the front passenger seat
    of a car, in conversation with an
    unseen person in back). Baldwin
    was as eloquent as always when
    speaking with local community
    organizers, but two other things
    are of interest: a) it's a snapshot,
    c.1962, of a black neighbourhood
    being razed for white development
    and its residents being pushed out;
    and b) Baldwin is shown listening
    to frustrated black youth,
    especially those who otherwise see
    Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam
    as their only hope.

    6 days ago

  • Steven

    I was pleased to see that Baldwin was as captivating a speaker as he was a writer. It's unfortunate that he didn't live to witness Obama as president, and so we don't know what would've been his take on it, and on Barack Obama, the man.

    February 12

    • Russ

      It's hard to imagine James Baldwin ever being completely satisfied with the state of the country! That said, I suspect he would have been deeply ambivalent. Glad that a black man was finally elected president, but disappointed that it took longer than even Bobby Kennedy's 40 year projection. Glad that Obama proved so popular, but disappointed that so many (i.e., the birthers) denied he was even a man. Glad at the progress the Obama administration made in gay rights, and protecting civil rights, but disappointed at the rise of the "new," old-South, and neo-Jim Crow laws -- even in northern states like Ohio and Wisconsin. An imperfect union was ever thus.

      February 13

  • Russ

    Beautifully expressionistic, it isn't so much a "documentary" as a cinematic essay -- much like one of Baldwin's own pieces. Nearly forty years later, Baldwin's erudite anger still cuts to the bone. Samuel L. Jackson's cool, calm readings capture the poetry and bitten-back rage in Baldwin's writing. It seems ironic that Baldwin's final challenge -- delivered at the end of the movie -- appears in a film from a Haitian director made entirely with European money. America, it seems, may still not be listening.

    February 12

  • Martha

    Excellent documentary and good discussion afterwards.

    February 12

  • Russ

    Let's go to Green Leaf for dinner, after the show. If you don't find us by the windows, just go to the restaurant -- it's about four doors down, to your left as you exit the theater. See you there.

    February 12

  • Martha

    Dinner.

    February 12

  • Russ

    James Baldwin was never a polite man, any more than the racism that outraged him was. Despite his rage, he clung to the romantic notion that America could redeem itself if only Americans — both white and black — were willing to acknowledge and confront the ugliness of American institutional and historical racism — head-on. He was a provocateur, who wanted his sophisticated ferocity to ignite the fires of social — and psychological — change. His eloquent fury has never been more timely — or needed. Confronting racism was never gentle or polite.

    February 11

    • Steven

      Nicely put. I didn't realize that he was a film reviewer until I read "The Devil Finds Work". I'm looking forward to seeing this film. I have to rush home from a yoga class to clean up and change, so I might be a bit late getting to the movie. If so, I'll see you in the lobby afterwards.

      February 12

    • Russ

      I wasn't aware of his movie reviews. I'll have to check them out! We'll see you there.

      February 12

  • Steven

    Dinner.

    February 10

  • John

    dinner

    February 10

  • Trevoli

    Sounds perfect, but I have a previous commitment

    February 9

  • Kathy

    I'm a maybe on dinner

    February 9

  • Paula

    Sign me up for dinner, Russ--thanks : )

    February 9

  • Judy

    Dinner pls, thanks Russ!

    February 9

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