A thought-provoking satire, Chris Black’s debut short gleefully dives into a series of hot-button American cultural issues in a potent comedy of racial cringe.
Charles, a young African-American student, participates in a classroom reading of one of the enduring literary emblems of America’s racist legacy, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. Whenever a sentence has the N-word in it, the teacher quickly swoops in to ask Charles to read that section.
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FULL REVIEW: https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2021/07/12/jim/
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A Film by Chris Black
Excerpts from the Full Review – https://www.shortoftheweek.com/2021/07/12/jim/
“There is a lot packed into this short’s 6min runtime as “Jim” explores the isolating and demeaning feelings that arise from being Black in White spaces. Drawing upon a lifetime of experience in the subject (and over a decade in the predominately White film industry) Chris Black demonstrates how, rather than serving as a salve, political correctness can compound this sensation. An acknowledgment of race does not equate to sensitivity towards it, and it is the clumsy gestures in recognizing “difference” (and the thinly-veiled prejudices just under the surface) that produce the outrageous farce of the film’s plot. In a practice common to American classrooms, the students take turns reading aloud from the book, but, whenever a sentence has the N-word in it (and this occurs over 200 times in Huckleberry Finn!), the teacher quickly swoops in to ask Charles to read that section.
“There is an absurdity to black life. And that’s basically what I want to explore. That’s why satire is great. It allows me to ask questions without being too serious and bringing the mood down too much. Tone was a fine balance.” – Chris Black
Jim is astonishingly assured in both its voice and production for a debut, but, at the time of production, Black was not a typical first-time filmmaker. Well-known in commercial and music video realms as a producer, his work includes the excellent brand film That B.E.A.T which we featured on S/W in 2013, as well as projects for top artists like Earl Sweatshirt and A$AP Rocky. His frequent collaborator, Portugal. The Man, executive produced Jim alongside directing luminaries AG Rojas and Daniel Wolfe, and these collaborators, as well as Black’s track record as both a producer and a burgeoning commercial and MV director, stirred an unusual amount of interest surrounding Jim upon its completion in early 2019.
A successful crowdfunding campaign further built anticipation and Chris sent the film my way in February of that year as a potential pick for Black History Month. “Brother Sondhi!” was the intro to his email, emblematic of the effortless way his larger-than-life persona created a feeling of ease and inclusion in others. Upon viewing Jim we were enthused by the idea, but the prospect of a festival-run ended up swaying him to wait. A plum debut at the Maryland Film Festival followed, with a proud Chris in attendance. Palm Springs Shortfest was on deck for June, but Black wouldn’t make the short trip from Los Angeles to the desert—on May 20th the filmmaker unexpectedly passed away.
Knowing that Chris was so enthusiastic about the prospect of sharing the film far and wide via the internet, I have, over the past couple of years, felt a twinge when spotting Jim in our database of accepted films yet to be released. Running into John Merizalde, an S/W alum and frequent collaborator of Black’s, I brought up the prospect of a posthumous release. Thanks to the efforts of John, AG Rojas, and the permission of Black’s family, we’re proud to present the online premiere of Jim today and hope that the release helps to celebrate his talent and serve as a remembrance for a gifted artist who still had much to say.” – S/W Curator, Jason Sondhi
Director Chris Black
Charles. AJ Hudson
Teacher Kalina McCreery
Jim Julio Montoro
DP Sean Conaty
Producer Maya Emelle
Exec Producer AG Rojas, Portugal. The Man
Exec Producer Morgan R. Stiff, Lee Stiff, Daniel Wolfe
Prod Designer Meghan Grimes
Editor Chad Sarahina
Assoc Producer Arielle Saturne
Composer Emmolei Sankofa
Reproduced on this channel with the permission of the filmmakers.