The first pointed documentary about James Baldwin, I Am Not Your Negro, is set to premiere this month at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Hatian filmmaker, Raoul Peck, the piece explores thirty pages of notes Baldwin composed that set the framework for a book about Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr., all of whom were close friends of Baldwin. Peck learned of this project after going through exchanges through letters between the author and his agent.
“Baldwin is my life,” Peck stated in an article anticipating the film’s premiere at shadowandact.com. “I started reading Baldwin when I was 14 or 15, and I realized as an adult a lot of the things I was saying came from him.”
While Baldwin didn’t actually write the book, the documentary is crafted as if he did. Peck describes his work as a “creative documentary” that illustrates that the book does exist, not as a whole, but in pieces throughout Baldwin’s work.
The New York Film Festival’s summary of the film expresses:
“Hatian filmmaker Raoul Peck has taken the 30 completed pages of James Baldwin’s final, unfinished manuscript, ‘Remember this House,’ in which the author went about the painful task of remembering his three fallen friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, and crafted an elegantly precise and bracing essay. Peck’s film, about the unholy agglomeration of myths, institutionalized practices both legal and illegal, and displaced white terror that gave long perpetuated the tragic state of race in America, is anchored in the presence of Baldwin himself in images and words, read beautifully by Samuel L. Jackson in hushed burning tones.”
After the film makes its world premiere at TIFF, it will screen at the New York Film Festival in October.
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