BLINDSPOTTING Jump Starts Dinner Conversation With DVD releasePosted by Dominga Martin
November 20, 2018
2018 has been a big year for the Oakland film scene, in addition to socially conscious films pushing the national conversation of race relations forward. The independent film “Blindspotting,” which is out on DVD/Blu Ray/Digital this week, joins the ranks of some of the most talked about movies this year — “The Hate You Give”, “Sorry to Bother You” “The Trayvon Martin Story” and HBO’s Sandra Bland documentary “Say her Name.” These are a few projects that face the topic of racial profiling head on — and Oakland, home of the Black Panther headquarters (1970), is taking the lead with a fresh new perspective.
Helmed by first time Director Carlos Lopez Estrada, Blindspotting follows two childhood friends COLLIN (Daveed Diggs, Hamilton) and MILES (Rafael Casal) who are an unlikely pair in a dysfunctional friendship, heading for a Shakespearean type tragedy — they’re bad for each other. The film set in Oakland focuses on Collin’s last 3 days of probation in which anything that can go wrong, absolutely does, including the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white cop, which Collin witnesses, sending his life on a traumatic spiral.
This movie is definitely a conversation starter and although most people like to keep the dinner conversations light, Lionsgate chose an exclusive restaurant to host the director for an intimate conversation about the film’s DVD release — right on time for Thanksgiving. The setting, Barbuto located in the West Village was the perfect atmosphere and we got straight to the point, especially after he admitted he wants to keep his Instagram private!
Race has become such a national conversation, how do you plan to keep your thoughts private as it relates to your film and the current climate?
“It’s a real challenge for me because I’m a pretty introverted guy. I love to engage in conversation and I like to ask questions. I think I’m inquisitive but I don’t normally do it in public, you know…I speak with my friends, I speak at dinner parties and I’m definitely not the kind of guy that goes to a dinner party and just start conversations on difficult topics, so doing this movie, even the shooting, it still felt very private because it was a small group of people and the crew were people that I knew and it felt intimate. It t felt like a safe space.”
“It was a big shift learning how to have a conversation in public, learning how to address these very delicate subjects with a lot of responsibility and not to pretend that I have answers that I don’t [and] I think the movie actually taught me a lot because one of the things that we set ourselves to do is to ask many questions — to inspire a conversation…but to not pretend that we had answers…to not offer…I mean, we’ll offer a perspective on things but we’re not going to tell you this is the way to fix it or this is what we should do.”
While the film pushed buttons and is extremely uncomfortable at times, artistically it finds it’s own voice and identity, merging spoken word as dialogue in key moments. Taking on subjects like culture vultures, black male identity, the prison system, race relations, gun violence and gentrification seems like a lot to throw at the wall and make stick, however, the collaborators some how managed to explore various themes without the film feeling emotionally heavy. The stars of the film are also a writing duo who created the script.
“Daveed and Rafael are artists that I really respect. I’ve been working with them for a long time and I think we created a really unique collaborative team,” says Estrada, and continues.
“I had a number of personal connections to the story, and obviously I’m not a black man living in Oakland but I am an immigrant, and I think I know very well what it feels like to feel like an outsider — what it feels like to not feel like you quite fit in the place where you live and the people you’re surrounded by, and to sort of have to prove your place in your community and in your city — with your relationships. So, I think I consider Blindspotting a movie about identity [and] I consider Blindspotting a movie about a man trying to find his place in the world. I think those are ideas that aren’t exclusive to Oakland, aren’t exclusive to African America males. I think, hopefully that’s the reason why the movie resonates with a lot of people because I think we’re asking questions and we’re touching on themes that hopefully relate to a lot of people. Even though demographically, the movie didn’t speak directly to me, many of the questions that it asks certainly did apply to me.”
While Estrada is a self proclaimed introvert, and the perfect dinner guest, he is hoping that the film inspires curiosity and conversations that are otherwise difficult to have. Having a nomination for the Independent Spirit Awards for Best Actor (Daveed Diggs) is also a great start!
You can check out BLINDSPOTTING on DVD/Blue Ray 11/20.