Raoul Peck’s Documentary on James Baldwin


I am waiting with bated breath for Raoul Peck’s next film. Last year, Tambay A. Obenson (“Up Next for Raoul Peck: ‘The Young Karl Marx’ + a James Baldwin Doc Made in Cooperation w/ His Estate”) wrote about Peck’s ongoing work on this documentary, which he has been working on for the past six years and I’ve been following @jamesbaldwinmovie on Facebook. Sounds exciting and innovative. See excerpts of Obenson’s article here:

[. . .] The filmmaker is also currently working on a documentary on James Baldwin. Although details on that aren’t yet available in full. What we do know is that it’s actually a project he’s been working on for at least 6 years, and it is being made with the full cooperation of the Baldwin estate, which is always a plus.

He also describes it as “a very creative documentary.” What might he mean by that? In short, the film will toy with the idea that Baldwin actually wrote what was to be an ambitious book – “a masterpiece” as Peck puts it – on Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., whose lives all ended in assassinations. Baldwin knew it would be a challenge, and didn’t believe it would sell, but he felt that he needed to write it. Baldwin never did write the book (Peck learned about it via letters Baldwin sent to his agent); but Peck’s “creative documentary” will imagine that he did. As the filmmaker states: “So the starting point of the film is to say – yes, he wrote it. He just didn’t bind it together, but if you go through his work, the film is there.”

All Peck has to build on are 30 pages of Baldwin’s notes for the project, and the rights to all of Baldwin’s writings, of course, since it’s a project being made with Baldwin’s estate’s blessings.

Why a film on Baldwin? Peck’s response: “Because Baldwin is my life… I started reading Baldwin when I was 14 or 15, and I realized as an adult a lot of the things I was saying came from him.”

Has a definitive film/documentary on the life of James Baldwin ever been produced? I don’t believe so, which is unbelievable, and which makes Peck’s project all the more significant! [. . .]

Follow film news on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jamesbaldwinmovie/

For full article, see http://www.indiewire.com/2015/02/up-next-for-raoul-peck-the-young-karl-marx-a-james-baldwin-doc-made-in-cooperation-w-his-estate-155764/

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