Wednesday, May 03, 2006  

Review: Race Is The Place

Ok, time to kick off the review section. We'll start with a kick-ass documentary- and I use the word kick-ass precisely because of the way this doc presents itself. It's smart, well-paced, in your face and provocative- in other words, a good, contemporary doc. The fact that it is talking about a peculiarly American obsession (not that other countries don't think/talk about race, it's just that Americans are so damn obsessed by it)- is a bonus as the doc represents an excellent marriage of content with presentation.
Race Is The Place (RIP)- is very performance poetry-based mixed with interviews. I was really pleased to see Willie Predomo, James Luna and Culture Clash since they're either SoCal or been out my way. Predomo is an amazing reader and if you can catch him live, you are in for a treat.
Performers I have heard of but haven't see before were Ahmed Ahmed (on FWA- flying while Arab), Lalo Guerrro ("No Chicanos on TV" [man, did he get that right...]), and Amiri Baraka.
And then there is Kate Rigg- after "Rice, Rice Baby" I WILL NEVER look at rice the same way again...
What's great about RIP is that it is not just one group, although some of the imagery seems to lean more towards racist depictions of African-Americans (and it could be because there has been so much of that produced)- but it hits many of the right registers about Indigenous peoples (Luna, Trask), Hapas (Rigg, Bumatai), Latino, Asian, African-American, Caribean-American, working class White, Arab-American, etc.
It's a good piece for looking at how race and self-identity can fuel an artistic process and also a good way to catch some of the rising stars (and established ones) of the new United Colors of US.

race is the place
by Ray Telles and Rick Tejada-Flores
Paradigm Films
91 min, festival version (on dvd)

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