“Haunting and relevant are two of the first words that come to mind when taking about Raoul Peck´s I Am Not Your Negro. For ninety minutes, Samuel L. Jackson channels the voice of James Baldwin, taking us on a complex multi-layered journey, examining the Civil Rights Movement.” (Ausschnitte aus dem Interview auf awards.daily von Jazz Tangcay)

AD: Your editing is just that. It´s timeless. …. Talk about how you edited the film.

RP: It was such a long and important process. The first major work that I had to do was create the libretto of the whole film, I needed a solid basis. My first edit was almost three hours of film, it was all Baldwin and exclusively him, with a beginning, middle and end. The story of the men was the main storyline.

From that edit, I started adding the layers and had to find a dramatic structure to it. I added in James seeing his first film as a ten-year-old, then crossed it with the rest of the story, and so on, finding other pieces that crossed.

I built layer upon layer in the editing process. I was going back to the book, discovering footnotes, that led me to another image, tune or another person who I could reference. It was almost like a detective story, but the main thing was making sure I wasn’t going around in circles, but moving progressively.

It´s a complex process, but you had to be disciplined. If I didn´t have the right clip, I needed to watch other clips to find the right now. You can only proceed once you have your content to move forward.

I was working on other projects and left my editor to work on it, and we would go away, come back, and look at it with fresh eyes. In doing that, we were able to see what was superficial and what was essential to the project.

There are no short cuts. The more time you have and the more time you invest, the more layers you can find and add, and make the film richer.