“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
(San Francisco, CA) — 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 premieres on Independent Lens Monday, January 15, 2018, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.
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 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. It is a film that questions black representation in Hollywood and beyond. Ultimately, by confronting the deeper connections between the lives and assassination of these the three leaders, Baldwin and Peck have produced a work that challenges the very definition of what America stands for.
“For a project like this one, a lot of patience, time and risks are involved,” said 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.”
“Working with Raoul for four years on I Am Not Your Negro has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” said 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.”
Visit the I Am Not Your Negro page on Independent Lens, which features more information about the film. The film will be available for online viewing on the site beginning January 16.
About the Filmmaker
Raoul Peck’s (Director/Producer/Writer) complex body of work includes feature narrative films like The Man by the Shore (Competition Cannes 1993), Lumumba (Director’s Fortnight, Cannes 2000, bought and aired by HBO), Sometimes in April (HBO, Berlinale 2005), Moloch Tropical (Toronto 2009, Berlin 2010) and Murder in Pacot (Toronto 2014, Berlin 2015).
His documentaries include Lumumba, Death of a Prophet (1990), Desounen (1994, BBC) and Fatal Assistance (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2013), which was supported by the Sundance Institute and Britdoc Foundation (UK) and broadcast on major TV channels (Canal+, ARTE, etc.)
He has served as jury member at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and at the Berlinale, is currently chairman of the board of the national French film school La Fémis and has been the subject of numerous retrospectives worldwide. In 2001, the Human Rights Watch organization awarded him the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award. He recently completed his latest feature film, The Young Karl Marx, a European coproduction, shot in Germany and Belgium (produced by Velvet Film, in coproduction with Agat Films) that will be released in the U.S. in the coming months.
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, & Hébert Peck
Coproduced by Patrick Quinet & Joëlle Bertossa
With the full support and collaboration of the James Baldwin Estate.
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS Monday nights at 10:00 PM. The acclaimed series, with Lois Vossen as executive producer, features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by ITVS, the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Wyncote Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more, visit pbs.org/independentlens. Join the conversation: facebook.com/independentlens and on Twitter @IndependentLens.