Shadowgram (2017, 94’), the ninth work by Augusto Contento (an Italian documentarist living in Paris) is perhaps the most complex and accomplished one. It deals with Afro-American problems in Chicago. But it’s a lot more. It’s a film about Afro-Americans in general; is a film about ghettoising cultures, even in the presence of attempts to integrate; is a film about the history of this ghettoization since the nineteenth-century slavery. And it’s a fascinating “novel” due to the author’s multi-faceted style, which makes the document a “fake”, I mean a dramatization aimed at a participating spectator, black or white, that he is. The black and white of the interviews and the precious repertoire alternates with the color description of the US metropolis and above all of its suburbs, with an incredible ability of the white author (who gives the word to someone else’s voice) to penetrate and get accepted not as an “enemy” from the black community. You perceive the work, I would even say the fatigue (including that of turning in a cold winter), which Contento had to and wanted to spend in preparing the film. The result, then, is not the one of “truth retrieved on the living” but of the truth conquered by the sensitivity and intelligence of those who really want to understand and make the spectator understand an otherwise hidden reality. (October 5, 2017)
It was a very well done and interesting documentary. I liked the people chosen for the interviews- very diverse group. It was interesting that the proposed solutions seemed to be presented in the beginning of the movie rather than end. It expresses well the emotions and perspectives of life among these individuals.
I have watched the documentary, Shadowgram. It is an extraordinarily powerful piece of work and presents an accurate picture of the tragic discrimination against African Americans that still exists in the United States - particularly in larger northern cities. That discrimination and police violence against black citizens has given rise to a movement known as “Black Lives Matter.”I spent seven years as Administrative Vice President of Knoxville College, an historically black college organized by the Presbyterian Church following the Civil War, and heard many stories similar to those in the documentary from our students who had come from Chicago (“Chitown,” as they called it).
It is provocative, depending on one’s perspective, providing insight and stimulating important questions about the confluence of history, economics and social forces on the perpetuation of inequality in African American lives.