Following the path of Black Panther Fred Hampton, “Judas And The Black Messiah” delves into activist America of the 1960s. A film nominated 6 times at the 2021 Oscars.
Deprived of release in French theaters due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Judas And The Black Messiah is directly available on myCANAL. Film buffs can thus discover the meteoric journey of African-American activist Fred Hampton, an influential member of the Black Panthers, assassinated by the FBI and the American police at the age of 21, in 1969. A story of commitment and commitment. violence nominated in 6 categories at the 2021 Oscars (including Best Film), directed by Shaka King, and carried by Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback.
AlloCiné: Tell us about this film and its message.
Shaka King: I was fascinated by the story of Bill O’Neal infiltrating the Black Panthers due to pressure from the FBI. For me, this film is an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the troubled past of my country but also to better understand the impact that this still has in our society today, which still remains so divided. I’m afraid nothing has changed and we still have government oppressions on disadvantaged minorities. I think the educational message can get through better when these ideas are conveyed in a movie like this.
Dominique Fishback: I felt the pressure to be part of this film whose message is so topical and important. For me, it was really a huge opportunity to be a part of this film. I also felt extra pressure playing the part of Deborah Johnson as she is still alive. I even got to meet her and her whole family. They live in Chicago and we went there to have their blessing. Deborah spent over 7 hours with us to really understand our approach and be confident that we were going to do her justice. Then she visited us during the shoot, and again I felt the jitters of her presence. But everything went well and I think she’s proud of our film.
Can you explain the impact that a film like this can have and the themes explored?
Shaka King: I wanted to explore this notion that the Black Panthers call “The Love Revolution”. I was intrigued by all the social, educational and medical programs created by the Black Panthers and how they really tried to stop the process of exploitation of the individual in order to free and protect them. I wanted to understand why they were armed. They seemed to claim their armed actions for the purpose of self-defense and they viewed this as a gesture of Love. So I wanted to better understand their motivations and their actions.
Nowadays, does this movie matter even more?
Shaka King: Absolutely, with the “Black Lives Matter” movement and others, I hope we will move in the right direction. A leadership made of union and not of separation. More than ever, we need to heal our wounds and pave the way for peace. But I think it will take time and more than a movie to get there.
Dominique Fishback: I remember walking last year protesting the death of George Floyd and supporting the “Black Lives Matter. This film is therefore more important than ever and I hope that its universal message of uniting minorities to fight this common enemy that is racism, will resonate more than ever with the public. I hope that we will learn to transform ourselves first, by meditating, and then change the world around us. In addition, I think that everyone needs to be aware of their importance and their impact on others. Everyone acts in a different way but everything comes together and complements. We form a single body and each member has its importance and an action different from the others, while being in harmony and in complementarity with the others.
Did you learn anything in particular from making this film?
Shaka King: I learned to listen better to others, to collaborate with others with more depth and humanity. It is also important to listen to people who seem hostile to me and to try to understand beyond what they are saying. Beyond appearances, you really have to learn to look at yourself with a different openness. I think I’m now showing a lot more diplomacy after directing this film.
Dominique Fishback: This film taught me a lot about myself and who I am. I feel totally transformed after this experience. In any case. I learned even more about unconditional and limitless love. I think I also learned to trust people more. To have more confidence in myself and to really determine who I am and what I want from this life. Somehow this film gave me a sense of liberation. It begins with the liberation of our mind. Once liberated we can really implant this notion of freedom in our daily life and in our actions to change the course of our lives and that of society.
Judas And The Black Messiah is available on myCANAL.