Born to resist: The rebirth of protest cinema

"Agony & ecstasy of being a Black artist in America" by William Paul Thomas

ArtsNow invites members of the Triangle arts community to contribute guest blog posts. If you are interested in writing a post about a Triangle arts organization or event, please contact us.

Christopher Everett is a filmmaker and director of “Wilmington on Fire,” a film about the events that took place in 1898 in Wilmington, NC.

After a year-long tour across the state of North Carolina of the award-winning documentary “Wilmington on Fire,” a film about the horrifying history of the 1898 Wilmington Massacre and the hatred that fueled it, I decided to turn my attention to a narrative film about the psychological effects of racism and the consequences of both accepting and resisting it.

My company, Speller Street Films, has begun to dust off Dennis Leroy Kangalee’s 2002 cult classic, “As an Act of Protest,” a film that is perhaps even more relevant today than when it was first made. The film follows Cairo Medina, a young African-American actor who goes through a station-of-the-cross journey to find the meaning of his life and eradicate the racism and police brutality that continue to plague the world.

I’ve always been impressed with “As an Act of Protest” but couldn’t fathom why Dennis had experienced so much difficulty with it. I understood why the establishment might not have ever embraced his work, but I knew there was a vibrant audience for the film and the answer to their malaise was in this movie. I convinced Dennis that “As an Act of Protest” was not only needed for the young people of today and budding activists who are involved in Black Lives Matter, but for the world at large.

The film is epic, confrontational and painfully honest without bright lights or glitz, and it’s quite possible that nothing like it has been made before or since. With the acquittal of the Minnesota police officer that unjustly killed Philando Castile, movies bearing a genuine social consciousness revealing our political climate are needed now more than ever. This is what inspired me to re-introduce this forgotten independent gem to a whole new generation and audience, and to revive an interest in alternative black cinema.

This is the film that Black Lives Matter should be learning from. If the new generation of activists want to advance theories, improve race-relations techniques, dialectics and problem solving within the web of social diseases and political oppression in America, they can start by dusting off the artworks that were created for them to be inspired by and to challenge.

All revolutions need art. This is just one example.

Raleigh Film Underground Presents As An Act Of Protest: Art Exhibit + Film Screening
When: Sat, July 15, 7 p.m.
Where: Kings, 14 West Martin St. Raleigh
Tickets: $10; purchase here

Event will feature a screening of the film, panel discussion and visual art. RSPV to the Facebook event.



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