Marshawn Lynch: A History

David Shields, 85 min, USA.

Marshawn Lynch: A History is a kaleidoscopic look at NFL star Marshawn Lynch and his use of silence as a form of protest. Culling more than 700 video clips and placing them in dramatic, rapid, and radical juxtaposition, the film is a powerful political parable about the American media-sports complex and its deep complicity with racial oppression

Born and raised in Oakland by a single mother, Lynch became an All-American, an All-Pro running back, and a Super Bowl champion, but over the last five years he has emerged as a nationally significant figure precisely because he has refused to “play the game” of being a dutiful interviewee. Silence-as-rebellion has African-American roots tracing back to slavery, and it’s a gesture that has flourished spectacularly in Oakland, where Lynch is deeply involved in the betterment of his city and where “troublemakers” have changed the game generation after generation—from Jack London and Gertrude Stein to the Black Panthers, Hells Angels, and Oakland Raiders (after playing the last two years for his hometown team, Lynch reportedly retired from football on August 24, 2019) to Bill Russell and Curt Flood to Alice Walkerand Ishmael Reed to Tupac Shakur, Ryan Coogler, and Boots Riley.


“A groundbreaking documentary about a silence that isn’t really a silence.”—Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen

“An incredible piece of storytelling, forgoing all the tedium of documentary norms. Hilarious and devastating.”—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn


Marshawn Lynch: A History documents and celebrates Lynch’s attempt to be true to himself in a capitalist, racist society that wants to exploit him and that he wants to both exploit and oppose. Lynch is leaving a legacy of the eloquence of silence, echo, and mimicry as key tools of defiance. Albert Camus says, “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” No one is absolutely free, but Marshawn Lynch comes thrillingly close.