Here’s something to add to your Father’s Day watch-list… A film covered on S&A in 2009 (the first year of the site’s existence, before we joined the Indiewire network) titled “Black Nation,” which I only just found out is streaming online at SnagFilms.com (parent company of Indiewire).
As seen through the lenses of Swedish filmmaker, Mats Hjelm, the Detroit-set “Black Nation” is a documentary feature that takes an uncompromising look at the state of Black men in America today set within the framework of a Father’s day service at the city’s *controversial* Church Shrine of the Black Madonna.
The Church strives to promote and develop community led programs and institutions that restore pride and dignity to its congregation and in particular, black men, acknowledging their despair while at the same time showing a way forward.
Mats Hjelm, also an internationally renowned video artist, said that he had a deep personal connection to the city of Detroit and the Church, which began with his filmmaker father’s documentation of the 1967 Detroit riots, the Church’s part in that seminal event, and the filming of Stokely Carmichael’s 1968 fundraising tour of Europe.
“A black man has attained the highest office in the world, while, according to the New York Times, black men are “sleeping through the holocaust,” director Hjelm shared in a statement as the film traveled the film festival circuit 3+ years ago, adding, “One only has to look to the City of Detroit, once a model of upward mobility for blacks in America. It now sits as a mere shell of its former self – vultures literally picking at the bones of its once great buildings – stripping them of everything from wire to copper pipes… How is it even possible for the African American men of this once proud City to conceive of a way out of the double jeopardy of crime and unemployment – let alone take positive steps toward the future?”
It’s obviously not what I’d call amusing or entertaining material. So if you’re looking for something light and undemanding to pass the time with dad with, this isn’t it.
But it should inspire conversation, and maybe much more – even action.
First watch the film’s trailer immediately below, for a glimpse at what to expect. And then watch the entire film (it’s 52-minutes long, so it won’t take up a lot of your Father’s Day time), embedded underneath the trailer: