This is a straightforward record of a lecture and Q&A session with
prominent Black American author James Baldwin - with involvement also
from Dick Gregory, a civil rights activist and comedian (who stood for
the US Presidency in the very same year). A session based at a British
West Indian centre, just as the post-Windrush generation is getting
It is an intent visual record, eschewing elaborate cinematic techniques
in favour of stark monochrome, taking in Baldwin's impassioned,
reasoned address and the audience's engaged participation.
The director, Ove, went on to make the socially conscious, often
incisive "Pressure" (1975). His unusual career in cinema began with an
extra's role in Hollywood's infamous grand folly, "Cleopatra" and he
worked also in British television: several Play for Todays and even
directorial duties on Brian Clemens' "The Professionals" in the early
1980s. The interview with Ove on the "Pressure" DVD reveals him as a
jovial, thoughtful figure: reflecting on how Trinidad made him, with
its cosmopolitan culture of carnivals, art and cinema. In HO's
experience, Trinidad was not a stereotypically deprived or consumerist
culture, but one where you could experience Dali and Picasso.
Ove, and the participants in this film absolutely resist the
subordinate, victim's position often accorded them by white liberals.
There is a sense of the burgeoning confidence of the Black Power
movement - ever more militant by the time of "Pressure".
Few have been so eloquent as Baldwin and Gregory in articulating the
case for true self-determination: the desire for black people to gain
control of their own destiny. This film stands as a timely reminder to
'liberals' of all persuasions that freedom is not something to be
granted by the missionary; to be doled out by conqueror to the
It should never be about whites seeking to 'do something for the poor
black people... we've got to do something for each other - to save this
really rather frightening world'. Will western leaders ever heed
Baldwin's egalitarian perspective?
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