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Opening Night of the 2021 African Diaspora Film Festival

November 26, 2021- I got the opportunity to attend the opening Night of the 2021 African Diaspora Film Festival at Cinepolis Cinema in Manhattan. The opening film was The Sleeping Negro directed by Skinner Myers. The night started with a speech by co-director Dr. Reinaldo Spech who emphasized that the film selection was more spread out and not just on the Diaspora. He talk about the selection process and because too many films met the criteria but not everyone can get the invite. He spoke on why The Slepping Negro was picked as the opening night film. He said it was the correlation of the issues addressed in the movie and the same questions the film asks are what Black Americans think of daily. I admit it was a great pick.

The Sleeping Negro is a 2021 drama directed by Skinner Myers who is making his feature film debut. This film is more of a character study than it is a film. The main character who goes by "Man" is a young black man who looks for a true definition of his blackness. He throughout the film is struggling with morals(by his white boss), his relationship with a white woman(his fiance and boss' cousin) and a former friend(who is a Trump supporter). There are constant images of him sleeping(a analogy of being asleep while awake) and walking around trying to find meaning on being black in America. Man wakes up each day trying to find his personal meaning of blackness by observing the streets, reading and playing cards by himself. All controlled by him but shows he can't control the outside world. While watching Man's movements you get a uneasiness and think at any moment someone will challenge him or will place a obstacle in getting where he needs to be mentally. The director pulls no punches when the current topics of black people getting shot by police, white privilege and post racial society is sprinkled in various scenes. You can tell this film was made within the past year with references to the past election and so forth.

The reason I feel that The Sleeping Negro is the best film to start this year’s festival is the issues that ADOS face now is relatable to what Man goes through. You get a uneasiness throughout the film. The journey of finding out what blackness is and how to live black in the film is similar to what the audience is going through as well. I am thankful that I got to witness a great film to bring me back outside to cinema again. Thanks to the ADIFF staff for giving me the opportunity.


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