Adam Shatz on Frantz Fanon in Cinema

The Film Comment Podcast

Apr 16 2024 • 1 hr 8 mins

In his new book The Rebel’s Clinic: The Revolutionary Lives of Frantz Fanon, Adam Shatz writes that, “The American poet Amiri Baraka described James Baldwin, who was born a year before Fanon, as ‘God’s Black revolutionary mouth.’ What Baldwin was for America, Fanon was for the world, especially the insurgent Third World, those subjects of European empires who had been denied what Edward Said called the ‘permission to narrate.’” Shatz’s book explores, in lucid detail, the complex life and thought of the Martinican psychiatrist and anticolonial theorist,  whose life was tragically cut short in 1961. Fanon’s epochal books Black Skin, White Mask and The Wretched of the Earth have long been a source of inspiration for politically minded filmmakers, including Med Hondo, Claire Denis, and many others. Film Comment Editors Devika Girish and Clinton Krute invited Adam on the podcast to talk about Fanon’s interest in cinema, filmmakers who’ve engaged the theorist’s works, and what exactly makes a movie “Fanonian.” In addition to films by Hondo and Denis, we talked about Ivan Dixon’s The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Antonioni’s The Passenger, Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, Ousmane Sembène’s Black Girl, and more.

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