“As an Act of Protest” is an internal "Battle of Algiers” (Rudolph Lewis). It is a cinematic poem about racism and its psychological effects. It is an avant-garde movie that is more like a classical theater piece rather than a foray into conventional narrative cinema and its style flows from documentary and melodrama to satire and horror.
The movie follows the “rite-of-passage-stations-of-the-cross” journey of a young, passionate, apollonian African American actor named Cairo Medina and his early artistic trials and tribulations with his director and dionysiac kindred spirit, Abner Sankofa. Together, after leaving a NYC Theater conservatory, they form a theatre group in Harlem and try to revive the Black Arts Movement which had such an impact on the theater community in the 1960’s.
However, after years of doing productions and protest plays, Cairo begins to question his role as an actor and the artist’s seemingly futile contributions and dwindling impact in an ever increasing oppressive, hypocritical, and apathetic world. The terrain around Cairo, too, seems to be full of inner contradiction because New York City seems to have become the bastion of police brutality against black men. The Mayor of NYC denies the insidious racism of his police officers when Cairo’s brother is murdered by two policemen. After a series of dissolved relationships, betrayals, and confrontations with the system, Cairo is pushed over the line from which there can be no retreat.
The film ends traumatically with a comment on racism and the violence that it breeds and the unfortunate, tragic, never ending cycle of hate, prejudice, and ignorance of history and “original sin” that America must come to terms with.
Distributor: Speller Street Films
Producers: John Brown X Productions & Melissa Dymock
Writer, Director, Editor: Dennis Leroy Kangalee
Starring: Che Ayende, The Last Poets, Ward Nixon, Mtume Gant, Dennis Leroy Kangalee
Original Score: Michael Wimberly
On-Line Editors: Pascal Raymond & Isaiah Singer
Director of Photography: Mark Banning
Art Director: Angie Saidel
Production Year: 2001