Race is the Place" is a lively survey of contempo U.S. ethnic-minority writers and performers who address racial divisions and injustices. Plentitude of angry rhetoric and '80s-style performance art will turn off some viewers, but pic will prove a good tool for stirring discussion. Co-produced by the Dallas-Fort Worth PBS affiliate, this feature by vet documentarians Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles will presumably require a few language bleeps when pubcast.

Race is the Place” is a lively survey of contempo U.S. ethnic-minority writers and performers who address racial divisions and injustices. Plentitude of angry rhetoric and ’80s-style performance art will turn off some viewers, but pic will prove a good tool for stirring discussion. Co-produced by the Dallas-Fort Worth PBS affiliate, this feature by vet documentarians Rick Tejada-Flores and Ray Telles (who previously teamed on “The Fight in the Fields: Cesar Chavez and the Farmworkers’ Struggle”) will presumably require a few language bleeps when pubcast.

Talents spotlighted include elder statesman Amiri Baraka nee Leroi Jones (“Dutchman”), but mostly emphasize a newer generation of ethno-conscious spoken-word artists, standups, conceptual artists, etc. Sometimes potent, occasionally shrill material ranges from black monologist Shabaka’s turn as a Klansman to Kate Rigg’s “Rice, Rice Baby” rap screed against the “Suzie Wong” exoticizing of Asian-heritage women. Archival news footage; 1960s interview excerpts with late, great African-American scribe James Baldwin; views of work by several like-minded current visual artists (many appropriating vintage racist images); stereotype-laden old cartoon and musical clips all help break up the potentially monotonous succession of new performance clips. Tech aspects are solid.

Race is the Place

Production

A Paradigm Prods. and KERA production in association with ITVS. Produced, directed by Raymond Telles, Rick Tejada-Flores.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Vicente Franco, Robert Shepard, Emiko Omori; editor, Herb Ferrette II; music, Jon Jang, Wayne Wallace. Reviewed at San Francisco Latino Film Festival, Nov. 14, 2005. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Kate Rigg, James Luna, Pipi Thomas, Danny Hoch, Havnani-Kay Trask, Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Raymond "Boots" Riley, Culture Clash, Andy Bumatal, Ahmed Ahmed, Beau Sia, Kamau Daood, Amiri Baraka, Lalo Guerrero, Willie Perdomo, Mayda del Valle, Shabaka, Michael Franti.
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