Raoul Peck film 'a stunning meditation on what it means to be Black in America'
Almost 30 years after his death, James Baldwin's cultural significance remains preeminent.
More evidence of that came as the awards were announced for the 2016 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival: Raoul Peck's filmI Am Not Your Negro, based on an unfinished novel by Baldwin, won the audience prize for documentary.
Raoul Peck completes the cinematic version of the book Baldwin never finished...
The honor, formally called the Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award, was announced as the 10 day-festival wrapped up its 41st edition.
TIFF said of the film, "With unprecedented access to James Baldwin’s original work, Raoul Peck completes the cinematic version of the book Baldwin never finished -- a radical narration about race in America today that tracks the lives and assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers."
The TIFF website expands: "Built exclusively around Baldwin's words, Peck's I Am Not Your Negro delves into the complex legacy of three lives (and deaths) that permanently marked the American social and political landscape. Framing the unfinished work as a radical narration about race in America, Peck matches Baldwin's lyrical rhetoric with rich archival footage of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and connects these historical struggles for justice and equality to the present-day movements that have taken shape in response to the killings of young African-American men including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, and Amir Brooks."
TIFF named two runners-up for the audience award, including Before the Flood, directed by Fisher Stevens. The documentary follows Leonardo DiCaprio on his journey around the world to explore the effects of climate change.
Also named a runner=up was ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail from Hoop Dreams director Steve James. According to TIFF, James' film "chronicles the legal struggles of Abacus, a small, family-run Manhattan bank that was the only financial institution to be criminally indicted in the wake of the 2008 mortgage crisis."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.