This month’s Filmanthropy support goes to Riverment: A movement that isn’t evolving isn’t moving by Shayla Racquel. In this narrative film, Racquel explores the implications that Black Lives Matter and the “new” civil rights movement hold for the struggles and sacrifices of the older guard of civil rights activists during 1950s and 1960s. At the center of the story is Maureen and her 19-year-old granddaughter Tyna. Active in the social movements of the 1960s, Maureen is a central factor in the development of black consciousness in Tyna. Throughout her childhood, she would tell Tyna firsthand accounts of the sit ins, boycotts, and voter registration drives which Maureen and Tyna’s grandfather took part in the segregated south.
When Tyna enters college, she draws from her family’s spirit of protest. She, along with her peers, call out the tenured faculty about racial inequalities in the hallways of the University. Eventually, she and her peers carry this spirit to the streets in protest of the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers. Maureen rebukes her granddaughters activities. She explains, “We did those things so that you wouldn’t have to.” The Civil Rights Movement arguably dismantled early-twentieth century Jim Crow but racial inequality and oppression is once again bearing its ragged teeth in the new millennium.
Indeed, the new forms of racism demand that a new generation of activists stand up, just as their grandparents had over 50 years ago. Progress, i.e., equal rights and equal power in the body-politic has always relied on protest movements not only in U.S. history but also in the history of the nation-state.
Messaging is one of the reasons I’ve chosen Riverment over the many fabulous independent film projects on Kickstarter. The film’s narrative form allows it to insert itself into the discourse of racial inequality today. A potential that documentary film, in my opinion, could only adequately achieve after the fact and through hindsight. Riverment also illustrates the generational tensions and trauma experienced by blacks as a result of centuries of racism in America.
Riverment has immense social impact potential. The film stands as a timely social commentary that can spark healthy discussions about the generational tensions and trauma in the black community and bring about the solidarity needed in the struggle for equality.
Although the film focuses on the black family’s experience of racism in America, inequality and discrimination is an obstacle to the progress of the entire nation. Therefore, a potential social impact campaign for the film would be a Let’s Talk About Race and Healing screening tour that would provide the space for all people to engage the ideas presented in the film and provide therapeutic resources to promote healing.
Riverment is Shayla Racquel third film project. On August 17, 2016 it surpassed its goal of $20,000 and reached $21,050 in donations from 489 backers. All donations will go to the production of the film. Support this film today here.
by Jule Hall: Coordinator, Campaign & Operations
Jule grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn where he became entangled in its infamous streets. Incarcerated at the age of 17 and dissatisfied with a life of delinquency, he devoted himself to his own personal growth and development. Education was the means through which he would achieve this end. He embarked on a process of self-education while advocating its transformative powers to his peers in prison law libraries and GED class rooms. He subsequently received a formal education with the Bard College Prison Initiative (BPI). Along with completing a bachelor’s degree in German Studies and a graduate-level public health specialization with BPI, Jule collaborated with correctional officials and BPI staff to implement the day-to-day operations of the privately-funded college program. Since his release, Jule has spoken publicly about the destructive effects of not having college in prison as well as the obstacles to reentry for formerly-incarcerated individuals. During his free time, he mentors and tutors at-risk youth at the Brownsville Community Justice Center.