On my quest to watch all the Oscar nominated documentaries, I recently watched I Am Not Your Negro, which was released late last year and is actually still in theaters now. It was directed by Raoul Peck and has already won numerous awards from various film festivals.
Much earlier in my life I had dreams of writing a book. I had a few ideas floating around in my head and even wrote out some chapters here and there. After seeing something like I Am Not Your Negro, I don’t even know why I wasted my time. This Oscar nominated film is based completely on a book treatment by James Baldwin to be called “Remember This House.” This amazing documentary is based entirely on just an idea for a book Baldwin had, and a prolific idea it was. The film focuses on the murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and Medgar Evers who were all key individuals during the Civil Rights Era. It examines how their lives and assassinations influenced race relations throughout our country.
While this movie is only told via old interviews and news clips of James Baldwin and others, it’s shocking how current the topics still seem today. While I liked the idea behind using only old footage, I would have liked a few current and contemporary viewpoints discussed as well. However, the round table discussion footage included may be one of the most outstanding things I have ever seen. On the eve of the March on Washington, there was a taped round table discussion on race with Baldwin, Marlon Brando, Harry Belafonte, Joe Mankiewicz, and Charlton Heston. This was so great to see and something I had no idea occurred. Another plus is the narration by Samuel L Jackson. I actually did not know it was him until the movie was over as Jackson was subdued and not his “when I take vengeance on them” normal self.
I enjoyed this movie and am still in shock as to how relevant it still is today. And as an overall film, I would say it is better than 13th. Both may deal with race relations but from totally different angles, so both are worth a viewing.
7 out of 10