Do black Americans travel? The answer is yes, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at most films. Lately, it’s been a topic that’s been bandied about – usually in the black film press – you can see Cybel Martin’s article on Shadow and Act here.
In April and May of 2000, I, with a group of outstanding young filmmakers and actors shot my first feature film, X-Patriots. Over the course of twenty-four days – three in New York, the rest in Den Haag, Netherlands – we scrambled to shoot a dense script with many locations and though it was grueling, we had a great time doing it. At the time, I was the only actor on screen who had even a single credit, my crew had never worked on anything more complex than student films, and I had never directed a feature. Amazingly, we made it through. In retrospect, with very few bumps along the way and in the end we had a film we were really proud of.
X-Patriots premiered June 23, 2001 in Chicago at the now defunct AngelCiti Film Festival where it would win best film and be noted in the Chicago Reader as the “Critic’s Choice”. A successful film festival run followed, with the film picking up usually good reviews and awards that included the LA Weekly Award Best Screenplay 2002, CCI Digital Award for Best Ensemble Cast 2002, Film Finders Maverick Award for Quality Low-Budget Film 2002 (Method Fest), Best Feature Angelciti Chicago 2001, and Nominated for the Gordon Parks Award IFP 2001. The last public showing of X-Patriots was in New York City at DCTV’s 24-Hour Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award.
In 2006, X-Patriots was picked up by a distributor, it didn’t work out well and to quote Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
After seven years of being sat on, the rights to X-Patriots reverted to me in December 2013. I’ve currently been weighing my options, if whether or not I should pursue distribution. At this point, it would cost a bit to restore the print (we shot on super 16, blew up to 35 in it’s original presentation – it was gorgeous).
This weekend, starting Saturday, February 15 – I’m making X-Patriots available on Vimeo, free of charge to hopefully gain awareness for the restoration (and the inevitable crowd-sourcing) and for people who have seen, heard, or asked me about the film for over a decade an opportunity to view it, even if briefly (might not hurt that there is a captive, snowbound audience in the East). I’ve produced and distributed other films, since X-Patriots, but it’s obviously bothered me that my first never reached an audience. When it’s mentioned, it’s as a mirage, “I think there was a movie about black Americans in Europe. I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never seen it. Have you seen it? Can you draw me a map?”
The map is here. Access to the link will end at midnight February 18, PST. Please feel free to share the link with your friends, colleagues, or anyone else you think might be interested in watching and discussing.
You can see X-Patriots until midnight February 18, 2014, PST here.