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American Skin Movie Review

Title: American Skin

Director: Nate Parker

Cast: Nate Parker, Omari Hardwick, Beau Knapp, Theo Rossi, Shane Paul McGhie, Milauna Jackson, Mo McRae, Tony Espinosa, Michael Warren, Allius Barnes, Wolfgang Bodison, Sierra Capri, Annalynne McCord, Ryan Mulkay, James Burns, Nicole Randall Johnson, Brighton Sharbino, Jahir Acosta, Evan Dodge, Kristofer Sykes, Karibel Rodriguez, Hunter Bodline.  

The film, written, directed by, and starring Parker, centers on Lincoln Jefferson (Parker), a a black war veteran seeking justice for his son, who was executed by a white police officer during a traffic stop, and is deprived of a fair trial. The grieving father, enraged by the fact that there are no charges filed against the cop, holds the entire precinct hostage in his quest for justice.

American Skin seems to follow in the footsteps of Sidney Lumet’s The Day at the Dogs and Dog Day, however what inspired Nate Parker to make this film was the 2014 death of Michael Brown that led to tensions between law enforcement and young black men and women. As he explains “The thing I immediately noticed was that profound diversity of the idea we have of citizenship, law enforcement, and our responsibility to preserve life. As an American citizen, father, brother, son and artist, I felt obliged to use my film-maker platform to respond to this crisis, not only to promote social equity, but also to initiate a global cultural change that can bring to preserve human lives. 

As the world seems to regress to the Middle Ages, with a preponderant return of xenophobia, class demarcation, populism and social injustice, this film comes as a warning. It serves as a greater parable to all the minorities that are discriminated and oppressed. Parker underlines this concept by describing the purpose of American Skin: “I have developed a film that I hope will challenge the systems of oppression, promoting a particularly necessary dialogue between the police and members of the black community. This dialogue, which is often discussed, has never happened publicly. This project will give rise to a public debate in which people from both factions can speak truthfully about what they feel about the circumstances and decisions made that affect the lives of citizens and law enforcement members.”

This movie completely retraces the divisions that are an outcome of not only politics but also the media, and put at jeopardy relationships amongst the citizens of any country — in this case the United States of America. Patriotism takes a detour to a nativist nationalist sentiment, that ultimately creates cultural division. The film presented at 76th Venice Film Festival was supported by Spike Lee, because of the strong message of hope towards pacification and a healing of America.

Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi, is a film critic, culture and foreign affairs reporter, screenwriter, film-maker and visual artist. She studied in a British school in Milan, graduated in Political Sciences, got her Masters in screenwriting and film production and studied at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York and Los Angeles. Chiara’s “Material Puns” use wordplay to weld the title of the painting with the materials placed on canvas, through an ironic reinterpretation of Pop-Art, Dadaism and Ready Made. She exhibited her artwork in Milan, Rome, Venice, London, Oxford, Paris and Manhattan. Chiara works as a reporter for online, print, radio and television and also as a film festival PR/publicist. As a bi-lingual journalist (English and Italian), who is also fluent in French and Spanish, she is a member of the Foreign Press Association in New York, the Women Film Critics Circle in New York, the Italian Association of Journalists in Milan and the Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean. Chiara is also a Professor of Phenomenology of Contemporary Arts at IED University in Milan.

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