Author: Jerome Dent

Raoul Peck, Baldwin, and I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Raoul Peck is arguably one of the most important contemporary filmmakers, and his work will continue to influence the field for years to come. I am chagrined to admit that I was only introduced to his work last year when I am Not Your Negro was released, but had become an avid fan by the time the credits rolled. Peck was born in Haiti, but fled during the to the Congo from Papa Doc’s presidency, eventually attending school in the Congo, the United States, and France. His extensive filmography, most of which have been produced or co-produced by his own production company, Velvet Film, features documentary and feature films alike. The subject matter that these films vary widely, but always with a keen eye towards the political. His 2004 feature film Sometimes in April, starring Idris Elba, concerns the Rwandan genocide, while The Man By The Shore, made in 1993, is a fictional rendering of a young girl’s experiences in Haiti under the regime of Francois Duvalier. Incidentally, The Man By The Shore was also, …

Lynching 2.0

The video found on the website of The Guardian, has a “tag” of Eric Garner’s name right above the full title: “‘I can’t breathe’: Eric Garner put in chokehold by NYPD officer – video.” The British newspaper’s logo sits in the top right corner of the video frame, while in the bottom is another designation: “Daily News.” These watermarks, proprietary claims on the video and its contents remain throughout the whole of the two minutes and forty-eight seconds video – not so subtle reminders of who owns this particular iteration of this specific event. There’s a title card disclaimer: “Warning: contains distressing images,” just before the video starts. The video itself is relatively low resolution – there is none of the crispness of high definition capture – and shot in portrait rather than wide-screen landscape, leaving the video itself to be columned by two large black empty spaces. The first sounds beyond the hiss of background noise consist of two voices – one diegetic (Eric Garner) and one non-diegetic – saying almost simultaneously “I aint do …