One of the most audacious voices to emerge in American
independent cinema in the last decade, photographer turned filmmaker
Khalik Allah trains his lens on communities of color rarely captured on the
big screen. Whether celebrating the complexities of Jamaican society or chronicling
turmoil and survival on one street corner in Harlem, his documentaries are imbued
with a singular mix of grit and lyricism, and fueled by a desire to see past
the surface of things. To introduce a series of his films now playing on the Criterion Channel, Allah joined us to talk about the spiritual roots of his art,
informed by his background as a member of the Five-Percent Nation. In
this clip from the interview, he also highlights his indebtedness to music, invoking the rapper Nas’s
song “One Love” to describe the unity of his own disparate works, and comparing
his camera to John Coltrane’s saxophone.
Watch the video above, then head to the Channel to dive into four of Allah’s films. To learn more, check out this conversation we had with him last year.