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The Black List: Volume One (2008)

Journalist Elvis Mitchell interviews twenty-two African American leaders, ranging from athletes and academics to politicians, social activists, and artists, providing a series of living ... See full summary »

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Journalist Elvis Mitchell interviews twenty-two African American leaders, ranging from athletes and academics to politicians, social activists, and artists, providing a series of living portraits-a unique glimpse into the zeitgeist of black America-and redefining traditional notions of a "blacklist". Written by Anonymous

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January 2008 (USA)  »

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Interesting Portrait of Black Diversity
15 March 2008 | by (Austin, TX, United States) – See all my reviews

Black List, which will run on HBO, ran this week at the SXSW Film Festival. The concept for the film is intriguing, but the ultimate execution is rather uneven. It is unclear what, if anything, Elvis Mitchell and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders are trying to say with this film.

They have gathered together 20 well-known African-Americans and had them speak in monologue form to the camera about the black experience. Some are celebrities, while others are successful, but with a lower public profiles. The interviews are interesting independently and many leave you wondering what else the interviewees said that was edited out. Most of the interviewees are from the worlds of politics, entertainment(music and acting), literature and sports. Academics and scientists are notably absent. They will probably show up in the promised volume 2.

They have reclaimed the negative term "Black List" as a positive concept, but it remains unclear what the film makers are trying to do with the film. The comments are, for the most part, interesting, sometimes quite insightful. However, they are also edited together in a somewhat random order. It is unclear what question or questions they are replying to. There is little sense of dialog among the interviewees. Because they have included 20 people, each one only gets 4 to 5 minutes of screen time which is presumably the most interesting clips from their longer interviews.

If their goal was to demonstrate to blacks and white that the African-American community is diverse and complicated, they have done that. However, the lack of connecting tissue between the interviews and the ideas seems to leave the film feeling a bit incomplete, confused, and somewhat unsatisfactory. However, perhaps that is the point. Perhaps the situation of African-Americans in the U.S. is a bit incomplete, confused, and somewhat unsatisfactory.


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