Berlinale-Blogger 2017
"I Am Not Your Negro" – The movie of the current times in the world

I Am Not Your Negro
© Dan Budnik

From a global premiere at the Toronto Festival, it was celebrated by an enormous ovation at the festival in New York, then Oscar-nominated for best documentary movie, and finally crowned with the audience award for best documentary movie at the Berlinale Panorama. Some consider "I Am Not Your Negro", directed by American director Raoul Peck, to be the most important documentary movie produced in 2016.

The movie does not derive its importance from its subject, related to the fight for people of color’s rights in the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century, or the poetic aestheticism of Peck in the movie, mixing the writings of novelist James Baldwin about the struggle of black people, especially his three friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and all of whom were assassinated, and scenes from classic Hollywood movies focusing on the idea of the white hero and the black servant. The real value of the movie is that it deals with a reality experienced and even escalated in the world up to this day.

The contemporary world continues to differentiate between humans on the basis of color and race. This despite the efforts of generations like those of the personalities of the movie, who have devoted their lives, and in some cases sacrificed their lives, in pursuit of equality and removing the differences between humans. Raoul Peck successfully mixes scenes of attacks on people of color in the time of apartheid, and photos of seats reserved for white people in public transportation, with modern scenes of new police violence towards black people, who many still regard as a source of danger just because of the color of their skin.

At the Friedrichstraße train station in Berlin and within days of Berlinale, a lady quickly closed her handbag, as a spontaneous response because of my position, as an Arabic person, standing behind her in line to buy Metro cards. Even in the Egyptian streets themselves, the observer hardly notices a concealed racism, sometimes unannounced, from some persons towards the darker-skinned Africans and Nubians when dealing with them.

Is the nature of the world racist or equality? Baldwin answered this question in a television interview within the movie, saying that he always wants to presume the good, but what happens actually makes it impossible to believe that the contemporary world has adequate justice. Baldwin was talking about the USA in the sixties, while in Arab, societies after two decades of the twenty-first century, there are still love relationships and marriages that fail because of opposition of families toward associating their children with another race or color. We still read written testimonies of some people on social networking sites about their exposure to verbal insults in the street because of their skin color, and it is strange that these insults are coming from people who are also "colored" by the criteria of racism discussed in the movie!

I Am Not Your Negro is a movie about the framework and cruelty of the struggle, stemming from a real pain which is difficult to feel except for those who live with human genetic conditions which are not supposed to give a man a superiority over others, and about the dilemma of the fact that its militants are dreamers standing in the face of a blind bigotry that could kill them without feeling any guilt. It is a suitable movie for a congested period in the world, and everyone should cooperate to overcome it.