Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary
To compose his stunning documentary film I Am Not Your Negro, acclaimed filmmaker Raoul Peck mined James Baldwin’s published and unpublished oeuvre, selecting passages from his books, essays, letters, notes, and interviews that are every bit as incisive and pertinent now as they have ever been. Weaving these texts together, Peck brilliantly imagines the book that Baldwin never wrote. In his final years, Baldwin had envisioned a book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. His deeply personal notes for the project have never been published before. Peck’s film uses them to jump through time, juxtaposing Baldwin’s private words with his public statements, in a blazing examination of the tragic history of race in America.
“I Am Not Your Negro is a kaleidoscopic journey through the life and mind of James Baldwin, whose voice speaks even more powerfully today than it did 50 years ago. . . . He was the prose-poet of our injustice and inhumanity. . . . The times have caught up with his scalding eloquence.” —Variety
“A searing and topical indictment of racial prejudice and hatred in America that makes for uneasy viewing and is not easily forgotten. . . . Vividly intelligent.” —Hollywood Reporter
“A striking work of storytelling. . . . One of the best movies about the civil rights era ever made. . . . This might be the only movie about race relations that adequately explains—with sympathy—the root causes.” —The Guardian
“Thrilling. . . . A portrait of one man’s confrontation with a country that, murder by murder, as he once put it, ‘devastated my universe.’… One of the best movies you are likely to see this year.” —The New York Times
JAMES BALDWIN (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, social critic, and the author of more than twenty books. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were bestsellers that made him an influential figure in the civil rights movement. Baldwin spent many years in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in 1987.
RAOUL PECK is a filmmaker acclaimed for his historical, political, and artistic work. Haitian-born, he grew up in Congo, France, Germany, and the United States. His body of work includes the films The Man by the Shore (Competition, Cannes 1993); Lumumba (Cannes 2000, HBO); and Sometimes in April (2005, HBO). He is currently chairman of the French national film school, La Fémis, and recently completed his next feature film, The Young Karl Marx (2017).
As concerns Malcolm and Martin,
I watched two men, coming from unimaginably different backgrounds,
whose positions, originally, were poles apart,
driven closer and closer together.
By the time each died, their positions had become virtually the same position.
It can be said, indeed, that Martin picked up Malcolm’s burden,
articulated the vision which Malcolm had begun to see,
and for which he paid with his life.
And that Malcolm was one of the people Martin saw on the mountaintop.
Medgar was too young to have seen this happen,though he hoped for it, and would not have been surprised;
but Medgar was murdered first.
I was older than Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin.
I was raised to believe that the eldest was supposed to be a model for the younger,
and was, of course, expected to die first.
Not one of these three lived to be forty.