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Arts & Culture

INDEPENDENT LENS: I Am Not Your Negro

Hosea Williams and John Lewis confront troopers on Bloody Sunday, in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.
Courtesy of Spider Martin
Hosea Williams and John Lewis confront troopers on Bloody Sunday, in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

Airs Thursday, June 11, 2020 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV

This film is no longer available to stream on demand.

Take a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter

One of the most acclaimed films of the year, a box office hit and a nominee for the Academy Award for Best Documentary, Raoul Peck’s “I Am Not Your Negro” premiered on INDEPENDENT LENS in January 2018.

In 1979, James Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent describing his next project, to be called “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.

But at the time of Baldwin’s death in 1987, he left behind only 30 completed pages of his manuscript.

Now, in his incendiary 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, spoken by Samuel L. Jackson, and a flood of rich archival material.

“I Am Not Your Negro” is a journey into black history that connects the past of the Civil Rights movement to the present of #BlackLivesMatter.

Malcolm X with reporters in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures © Herman Hiller, all rights reserved
Malcolm X with reporters in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)

It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond.

And, ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.

This film is no longer available to stream on demand.

Anti-integration rally in Little Rock, Arkansas in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Anti-integration rally in Little Rock, Arkansas in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)

Filmmaker Quotes:

“For a project like this one, a lot of patience, time and risks are involved,” said Director Raoul Peck. “And at the early stage it’s almost impossible to convince anyone about the film to come. And then after a lot of research, writing and editing, in that order, there comes a time when what you really, really need above all is: trust. In this case, it was ITVS and executive producer of INDEPENDENT LENS Lois Vossen who came at the right time, with courage and conviction. This is rare today among funders.”

James Baldwin and Medgar Evers in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
James Baldwin and Medgar Evers in "I Am Not Your Negro," a Magnolia Pictures release. (undated photo)

“Working with Raoul for four years on ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” said Executive Producer Lois Vossen. “Baldwin’s writing has been a touchstone in my own life and I couldn’t imagine a filmmaker more perfectly suited to make a film on Baldwin than Raoul. Funding this project was a no-brainer. His masterpiece captures Baldwin’s extraordinary clarion voice in a film that will continue to illuminate for generations.”

Reviews:

“A life-altering work”A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A mesmerizing cinematic experience… I Am Not Your Negro helps us face our racial divide and possibly begin to change it as well.”Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Join The Conversation:

INDEPENDENT LENS is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IndependentLens on Twitter. #IndieLensPBS.

"I Am Not Your Negro" film is on Facebook, Instagram, and you can follow @IAmNotYourNegro on Twitter. #IAmNotYourNegro

Credits:

Directed by Raoul Peck. Written by James Baldwin, Raoul Peck. With the voice of Samuel L. Jackson. Edited by Alexandra Strauss. Archival Research: Marie-Hélène Barbéris. Assisted by Nolwenn Gouault. Animation and Graphics: Michel Blustein. Director of Photography: Henry Adebonojo, Bill and Turner Ross. Sound: Valérie Le Docte, David Gillain. Music Composed by Alexei Aigui. Produced by Rémi Grellety, Raoul Peck and Hébert Peck. Co-produced by Patrick Quinet and Joëlle Bertossa.

With the full support and collaboration of the James Baldwin Estate.

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