From the Premieres

New York

March 23, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On Saturday, March 16, the Magic Johnson Theater in the heart of Harlem buzzed with excitement as people started streaming in for the premiere of BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! A multinational grouping of over 220 people gathered and watched the film. The excitement was palpable as you entered the theater, with greeters pointing people to where the movie was and talking to everyone entering the theater about what all the buzz was about. People commented that they had never seen anything quite like this, from the greeters out front, the large visuals of the film poster, the tables with literature and introductory packets for everyone who attended. People welcoming them to step into the revolution—by getting into and getting with BA Speaks: REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS!

As soon as you stepped into the theater and looked around, it was clear—this was a very mixed crowd, and very diverse in age, from middle school kids from Harlem all the way to a 90-year-old woman. The majority of the people there were young, teenagers through early 30s, or in their 60s and older, and it was noticeable that there was a section of people from those this system has cast off—people who had heard about and were being organized to experience this film by the Revolution Club and others from all over the city.

Once the movie started, people were riveted—one person described "how BA was able to bring the masses along with him—that people were listening and talking to the screen and that this was very impressive." He said it made him feel coming out of the premiere that he had to do more—mentioning how BA said that everybody from 9 to 90 could play a role. He said, "I've got to play my 60-year-old-plus role." Although some people left early, around 200 people experienced most of the film—and this event. Sitting in this room with all these people really felt like what one of the filmmakers described—"a daring, scientific, substantive summoning to revolution." And this crowd responded seriously to this summoning.

Throughout, you got a real sense of a community of people deeply engaging with the film—from the laughter, the clapping, people talking back. There was noticeable reaction from the audience, for instance, when BA tells a story in the film about the three-card monte (comparing how people get duped by this hustle with how they are drawn into the dead-end of elections under this system) and how if you play you lose, and then when he talked about Obama. One young man who was newly introduced to BA remarked that he "greatly appreciated" the exposure of Obama, which he felt made a lot of sense because people are conditioned to think that anyone speaking against Obama is some kind of racist. "It's extremely important for Black people to hear this."

A proletarian woman who was active in the build-up for the event—including by distributing palm cards for the premiere with her own telephone number so she could organize with friends and others to come together—was very exhilarated by the film. She could be heard talking back to the screen during the showing, responding favorably to the parts on Obama, especially the point about how those running this system say now that there's a Black president, so all the horrors that people face are "your own fault."  She said that everybody in Harlem needed to hear this. "What's wrong with our people? They're off playing video games when they should have been here." She very much wants many more people to hear BA. "It's unbelievable that he has so much to say."

A high point of the day, which many people commented on, came during the intermission. After a brief speech from the Party, members of the Revolution Club went up to the front of the theater as a disciplined group, all wearing BA-image T-shirts, projecting a real force for Revolution—Nothing Less! and inviting people to get with them. At the end, too, as many clusters of people talked and exchanged their thinking about what they had just experienced, the club got together and put out a call for people to get with them.

A lot more needs to be learned about how people's thinking changed off of seeing the film, and then their second and third viewings of it. And a lot more needs to be learned about all the ways that people took up spreading the word about the film, including to friends, relatives, and coworkers. Several people who had previously either watched a rough cut or attended one of the talks came with at least one new person—a partner, a friend, or a relative.

One major theme in the questionnaire that more 50 people filled out after watching the film was how important it is for many other people to see the film, and various ideas for how they would use it. People talked of buying one or two copies of the DVD right away (120 DVDs were sold at the event) so they could start showing it to their friends, at their community centers, etc. One person who's at a homeless shelter said, "I'm going to play this DVD... at the shelter. Instead of listening to Maury Povich and who's the daddy, not the baby daddy—things that we can do."

Below is a sampling from what people wrote in their questionnaires:

"Great film I think everyone needs to see!"

"Definitely needed!"

"Great film. Needs mass exposure. Hope more people get exposed to the revolution."

"Excellent—it tells you all the information you need about the problem, and about changing the system, and it's true and to the point."

"I really enjoyed the movie and to get more involved."

"Extremely informative and has raised my awareness of the tremendous need of change in our system and my role in it which is yet to be decided."

"He brought the large issues of the current ills of society into context in a concise manner that all can understand. BA is a great speaker that can break down societal challenges that can be digested and understood. This helps to really understand the system and why things need to change. GREAT film."

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