Field Niggas, Dir. Khalik Allah, USA, 2015, 61 mins, English
This hour-long documentary is a startling portrait of a Harlem street corner. Following its successful UK premiere as part of the Frames of Representation documentary film programme, director Khalik Allah describes his intimate and singular vision as quite simply 'taking the hood off of the hood and showing you the head.' The film's title recalls Malcolm X’s Message to the Grassroots, in which he delineated his concept of two types of slaves.
Shot entirely at night on the corner of 125th and Lexington Avenue in Harlem, the film captures the mental, physical and spiritual struggles of the neighborhood's most exhausted and oppressed inhabitants. Photographed by Allah himself, Field Niggas spotlights its subjects in stunningly composed, dignified portraits that are hypnotically woven with street images. The non-synch audio track consists of conversations with and among those faces: dreams, regrets, arguments, affection, observations, opinions.
Shot in July of 2014, with the heinous death of Eric Garner by an NYPD officer occurring mid-production, Field Niggas is a breakthrough non-fiction film that serves as an ardent call to rise above social constructs.