CAST: Rae Dawn Chong, David Fumero, Julie McNiven, Nican Robinson | SCREENPLAY: Skinner Myers | CINEMATOGRAPHY: Matthew Halla | EDITING: Sharon A. Mooney | MUSIC: Live Footage | PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jennifer Chan | PRODUCTION: Skinner Myers, Matt Palmieri, John Campbell, Alex Noel McCarthy, Dan Funes for Maboroshi Pictures, FilmHaven Entertainment, JCInTime

Drama – USA – 2021

The young black man, simply identified as “Man,” must resolve the personal meaning of his blackness when his white boss orders him to commit fraud to benefit the corporation. Struggling with an overwhelming sense of shame for going through with the illegal demand, Man seeks consolation by discussing his unease with a black former friend and his white fiancé. Unfortunately, his black friend brings his own toxic baggage to the table, which makes Man push him away to preserve his own psychological health. When Man’s white fiancé comes over, he confesses his conflicting
emotions about their relationship, yet she struggles to hear what he’s saying because she’s stressed about her white liberal parents’ anxiety over meeting him that night. After their conversation erupts into a fight, Man realizes he’s been looking at his life through the wrong lens. Later that night, a horrifying dream further cements the fact he needs to make some tough, fundamental changes. When Man is required to evict an older black woman from her home on behalf of the corporation, he must choosebetween continuing to complictly uphold the opressive system or rebelling against it.

 

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT

I have constantly battled with the rage that has accompanied my experiences of surviving as a Black individual in America as well as in the rest of the world. I’ve sought to deal with that rage through my creative work, whether it be in my music, photography, acting or filmmaking. I became tired of repeatedly being informed that my art didn’t conform to what was profitable. I took all  The irritation and rage that had built up up over the years and wrote this film. I wanted to find a creative way to work through my struggles. Thus, was born The Sleeping Negro.

My objective with this film was threefold: I wanted to make a film that echoed my personal journey as a black man/artist; I wanted to poke the bear of White Supremacy while scrutinizing the mental gymnastics that Blacks have to perform in order to keep from going insane under such a system; and I wanted to show how the transactional nature of capitalism exploits and destroys black lives. I love surreal cinema because I feel it yields a space for work that doesn’t fit into the status quo. My intention was to visually call upon the work of filmmakers like Andrei Tarkovsky, Djibril Diop Mambety, Steve McQueen, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Billy Woodberry, and Alexandro Jodorowsky.

The style of The Sleeping Negro is dramatic surrealism, and it visualizes how my black mind processes what happens to me and around me as I go through this thing called life. To say this film was a challenge to create would be an understatement. I started shooting with only a small amount of cash in my pocket. My thought was that I would use the footage as a teaser to raise the rest of the funds to finish the film. I never used the footage as a teaser, but I raised money in spurts over a three-month stretch. It was tough to keep everything organized given everyone’s schedule, but we pulled it off. When it was all said and done, we spent nine half-days shooting The Sleeping Negro.

My goal with this project is that it will provoke individuals to reexamine their perspective on the world. I hope you enjoy The Sleeping Negro.