‘Blindspotting’ Focuses on the Increasing Racial Divide in Oakland, the U.S.
The comedy-drama film Blindspotting made its premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and has been earning raves for its simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking look at gentrification and police brutality in Oakland, California.
Stars and co-writers Rafael Casal and Daveed Diggs infused hip-hop sensibilities such as spoken word poetry into the film, emphasizing timely and relevant themes like race and justice.
The film centers on an ex-convict named Collin (Diggs) who’s trying to stay out of trouble towards the end of his probation. But when he inadvertently witnesses a white police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man, he finds himself forced to reckon with his rapidly changing city and his friendship with his white best friend Miles (Casal).
The film has been touted as “the most exciting cinematic take on contemporary race relations since Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing nearly 30 years ago,” by Variety magazine.
Indeed, Spike Lee’s 1989 film about simmering racial tensions in Brooklyn, New York still resonates today in our current political and cultural climate. Now, a film like Blindspotting is certainly relevant and necessary to explore the contentious relationships between different races and between people of color and law enforcement, which sadly dominate our headlines.
Its setting in Oakland also brings to mind the deadly incident on New Year’s Day in 2009, when a BART officer shot and killed an unarmed African-American man named Oscar Grant, whose story inspired the movie Fruitvale Station.
Diggs and Casal brought the film to Lionsgate’s CinemaCon presentation this past Thursday, where they took the stage for an impromptu spoken-word poem that was seen as a tribute to the unarmed people of color killed by police, an ode to the pair’s hometown, and a summation of the film’s themes of gentrification and inequality.
“How perfect does a black boy have to be before we mourn him?” Diggs asked. “How quickly must a neighborhood vanish for us to notice?”
Diggs previously won a Tony award for his portrayal of Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in the smash Broadway musical “Hamilton.” Casal is an experienced spoken-word artist who has performed on HBO’s “Def Poetry”.
Directed by Carlos López Estrada, Blindspotting will hit theaters July 20.