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.