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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Racism > History > Genocide > Adam Clayton Powell + Black IsÖ Black Ainít (Docurama DVDs)

Adam Clayton Powell + Black IsÖ Black Ainít (Docurama DVDs)


Picture: C†††† Sound: C†††† Extras: C/C-†††† Documentaries: B-



As the latest Black History Month approaches, the reliably good slew of programs about history and the struggle for Civil Rights returns in what I feel is an ever-vital exercise to have us remember how the past and history affects us all.Even with a President Obama and because his success makes it easy to want to suppress how very ugly the racism and related crimes have been.Docurama has picked two really good documentaries that give us unique perspectives on the issues involved and show how complex the history can be.


Richard Kilbergís Adam Clayton Powell (1989) runs only 54 minutes, but tells the amazing story of a black man who passed at times for white and became a groundbreaking, innovative speaker, politician, protester, organizer and even helped author the War on Poverty that LBJ signed into law.The premiere Civil Rights leader with a long list of firsts to his name, Powell would have troubles by the 1960s with some self-indulgence that backfired, a Civil Rights movement that saw him as passť and not radical enough and a man who history has forgotten more than it should.It is worth seeing, especially if you do not know who the man is.


Marlon Riggs was dying of AIDS when he finished Black IsÖ Black Ainít (1995) in a complex look at identity that includes black and beyond.Not only does this include gay and show conflicts with religionís oppressive side, it is very thorough (at 87 minutes long) in dealing with the little-discussed light skinned black/dark skinned black dichotomy that the community usually struggles with in more silent terms.He even includes the subject of sexism and though this can be uneven at times, is an impressive work that everyone should see at least once.


That makes for two smart releases that are as timely as ever.



The 1.33 X 1 image in both cases is softer than expected with Powell shot on 16mm film and though the sources are good, the transfers are older analog masters.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also flat in both cases, but audible.Some of the compression is likely from the transfers and not the sources.Extras on both include Docurama trailers, text on the filmmakers and Powell adds an on-camera interview with the director.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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