Black NationMats Hjelm, 90 min, Sweden.
The stark reality and contrast of these headlines point out the dichotomy of America Today. A black man has attained the highest office in the world, while according to the New York Times, black men are “sleeping through the holocaust”. One only has to look to the City of Detroit, once a model of upward mobility for blacks in America. Jobs having long migrated overseas, it now sits as a mere shell of its former self – vultures literally picking at the bones of its once great buildings – stripping them of everything from wire to copper pipes. How is it even possible for the African American men of this once proud City to conceive of a way out of the double jeopardy of crime and unemployment – let alone take positive steps toward the future?
Black Nation is a documentary feature film that takes a hard, uncompromising look at the state of Black men in America today through the prism of the streets of Detroit and the City’s controversial Shrine of the Black Madonna. The Church’s focus on delivering pragmatic programs centered around economic self sufficiency, is a model for Black America today, as it searches for solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Set within the framework of a Father’s day service, the film tracks the despair of its congregation while at the same time showing the way forward with great hope and dignity. They are leading by example.
Swedish director and internationally renowned video artist, Mats Hjelm, has a deep personal connection to the City and the Church. This connection began with his filmmaker father’s documentation of the 1967 Detroit uprising, the Church’s part in this seminal event and the filming of Stokely Carmichael’s (Black Panther Party) 1968 fundraising tour of Europe. Segments of this historic footage are included in the film. His connection was further deepened through his formal education at Michigan’s prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art. Wonderfully shot in HD, the result is a beautiful film unlike any other that will deeply affect your view of America today.