Marlon Riggs

Black Is . . . Black Ain’t

Black Is . . . Black Ain’t

Made with an urgency imparted by the knowledge that he was nearing the end of his life, Marlon Riggs’s final film—completed after his death of AIDS by a group of his devoted collaborators—is a wide-ranging consideration of a question that had long been central to his work: What does it mean to be Black? Using his mother’s gumbo recipe as a metaphor for the diversity of the African American experience, Riggs travels the country, seeking insights from leading thinkers like Angela Davis, Henry Louis Gates Jr., bell hooks, and Barbara Smith as well as ordinary people—young and old, rich and poor, rural and urban, gay and straight—all grappling with the numerous, often contested definitions of Blackness that have shaped their lives. Punctuated by footage of a dying Riggs directing his crew and delivering parting wisdom from his hospital bed, Black Is . . . Black Ain’t breaks down the divides of class, colorism, patriarchy, and homophobia as it issues a stirring appeal for unity.

Film Info

  • Marlon Riggs
  • United States
  • 1995
  • 88 minutes
  • Color
  • 1.33:1
  • English

Available In

Collector's Set

The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs

The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs

Blu-Ray Box Set

2 Discs

$39.96

Collector's Set

The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs

The Signifyin’ Works of Marlon Riggs

DVD Box Set

3 Discs

$31.96

Black Is . . . Black Ain’t
Cast
Essex Hemphill
Featuring performances by
Larry Duckette
Wayson Jones
Linda Tillery
Wayne T. Corbitt
Djola Bernard Branner
Eric Gupton
Angela Davis
Yvette Flunder
Marlon Riggs
Credits
Director
Marlon Riggs
Produced by
Marlon Riggs
Coproducers
Nicole Atkinson
Coeditors
Christiane Badgley
Bob Paris
Director of photography
Robert Shepard
Sound recordist
Sekou Shepard
Field producers
Carroll Parrott Blue
Valerie Grim
Nicole Atkinson
Choreographer
Bill T. Jones
Original music
Mary Watkins
Associate producer
Jasmine Dellal
Still photographer
Lyle Ashton Harris
Researcher
Jacqueline Nassy Brown
Drummers
Phyllis Bethel
Carole Caru Thompson
Joan Ashley
Debra J. McGee
Madeleine Yayodele Nelson
Ubaka Hill
Online editor
Ed Rudolph
Sound mix
Mark Escott/Robert Berke Sound