Film screening of Field Niggas followed by Q&A with Director Khalik Allah, moderated by Professor of African and African American Studies and of Philosophy at Harvard University Tommie Shelby.
Presented by Film Series at the University of Massachusetts Boston, in partnership with the Hutchins Center and Harris House at Harvard University
In a speech by Malcolm X, the “field negroes” were the most downtrodden of slaves: those forced to work the fields and who had nothing to lose, as opposed to the “house negroes,” who were better fed and dressed for their work in the master’s house, where they also lived. It is today’s “field slaves” that photographer Khalik Allah gives a voice by focusing his camera on the poorest residents of Harlem, in the night, at the corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. They are people we often try to avoid seeing – homeless, addicted – who we now hear in timeless tones and with flashes of great beauty, thanks to the director’s unexpected stylistic choices: asynchronous sound, elegant slow-motion shots and garishly saturated colors.
Khalik Allah is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker whose work has been described as "street opera" simultaneously visceral, hauntingly beautiful and penetrative. His passion for photography was sparked when he began photographing members of the Wu-Tang Clan with a camera he borrowed from his dad. Real and raw, his profoundly personal work goes beyond street photography. His eye for daring portraiture and bold aesthetics takes us into an entire world, as seen in his feature doc debut, Field Niggas. The film borrows its name from Malcolm X’s famous lecture, “Message to the Grassroots.” He shoots with a manual, analogue film camera, as photography and film-making form a Venn diagram in his work.