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The Black List: Volume One (2008)

8.1
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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 ... 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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african american

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Documentary

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User Reviews

a to do list in Black
5 August 2008 | by See all my reviews

I was fortunate to be in the audience at a screening of The Black List Project at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, August 4, 2008. The Black List film is a montage of American figures that illustrate distinctive Black American experiences in a non-intrusive, non-moralizing manner. From a mix of political/academic figures and athletes to writers and entertainers, the film illustrates an array of perspectives that can be appreciated by all.

With candidness and innocence of intent, the film does not try to solve problems of the world but rather allows five-minute shards of insight into the experiences that have shaped some of the iconic figures in contemporary American and Black history. The figures seated without adornment, display themselves with bare dialogue not devoid of a very palpable and physical authority. Filmmakers Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and Elvis Mitchell capture the layered essence of each vignette that fortifies the content of the piece. The close-up camera technique forces the audience to heed the temper of facial expressions and gestures, while pondering the meaning and weight behind the verbal messages.

In a time where cinematic media characteristically depicts images of Black America in a slanted hue for bottom-line effect, it was refreshing to see a film not have a feeling of being corporative in any fashion. It was reminiscent of reading an autobiography, where you are so immersed that you seem to be engaged in conversation with the subject. In The Black List, the audience advances into a listening friend, sibling or student of Keenen Ivory Wayans, Vernon Jordan, Chris Rock, Serena Williams, Toni Morrison, Zane, Al Sharpton, and others; a sort of dinner party of fascinating figures. Opening with Slash, the race-ambiguous former lead guitarist of the group Guns-N-Roses, you are immediately thrust into a dynamic 90-minute journey. Overall, the film inspires one to achieve, be reflective of one's earthly purpose, and hear the understated dimensions of struggle often overlooked.

As managing editor of UZURI, an African inspired fashion magazine, I found it refreshing to see the variety of personalities depicted in the film, the featureless but energizing format, and the frank dialogue. Faultless in aim, the documentary will make for a great night with friends and family to revel in and learn from the uniqueness of these individual expressions. I do not know what Greenfield-Sanders and Mitchell were personally trying to achieve with the film, but I know if you put out a motivating concept, you get interesting conclusions in return. And, with that being said, you will take away from the film what it gives you and ultimately form your own.

When it comes to making out your list of things to do for the remainder of the summer, make sure The Black List, which airs on HBO, August 25, 2008, 9 P.M. EST is on your viewing schedule!

Cedrick Smith, MD Managing Editor UZURI Magazine www.uzuri.com


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