Photographer and filmmaker Khalik Allah’s acclaimed "Field Niggas," essentially a portrait of the people who roam Harlem’s streets at night – people Allah has been photographing for years – will enjoy a limited theatrical run, starting in NYC this Friday, October 16, at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP.
In the work, Allah uses the many relationships he has built with members of the community, over time, to gain intimate access into the lives of each of them, creating a seemingly singular immersive experience – a gritty, vibrantly-shot documentation of life at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue in Harlem NYC.
Here’s an official description: ‘Field Niggas’ is a stark portrayal of the inner city struggle. It depicts an elusive beauty that so often goes unnoticed. Shot entirely at nighttime on the corner of 125th and Lexington avenue in Harlem, Khalik Allah’s camera encompasses, and richly depicts, the mental, physical and spiritual struggle of 125th and Lexington Avenue’s most exhausted and depressed inhabitants. ‘Field Niggas,’ taking it’s name from Malcolm X’s famous lecture, “Message to the Grassroots,” takes us into a world that most of us would choose to avoid. Khalik’s objective is to shine light on fear, dispel it, and prove that love exist everywhere no matter how much it’s presence has been obscured by poverty, addiction and pain. Ultimately Field Niggas is a hauntingly honest, rich depiction of the poor."
There’s a nice profile of the self-taught artist on the New York Times’ website, published in April of this year, which is encouraged reading. In it, the 30-year-old artist talks about the non-traditional, dreamlike narrative filmmaking in "Field Niggas," and relates individual encounters he experienced during the shooting of the film.
The 60-minutes-long "Field Niggas" had been touring the film festival and college screening circuit, with recent stops at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, the Maryland Film Festival and Rooftop Films this summer.
No word yet on what other cities it’ll travel to, but New Yorkers can see it when it opens next month, courtesy of the IFP’s Screen Forward program, which is dedicated to theatrical runs for self-distributed and micro-distributed features at the Made in NY Media Center by IFP in DUMBO, Brooklyn.
Allah previews the film in the 5-minute video below, in which he explains the "method to his madness," including the reasons for the title, which some folks will probably immediately find offensive (there is some explicit language, so if you’re sensitive to that, or watching this at work, now you know).