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Living while Black: Manifesto

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

“Living While Black”


For the love of Black Documentaries

Black documentaries have always shown different sides of black culture, some very traumatic. When a filmmaker makes a documentary about their culture it should have something to do with how they want to be represented. Many documentaries about the African American experience sometimes can be very overwhelmed with negative experiences while showing negative images on the screen. Although, this is meant to educate however, with the “Living While Black Documentary” portrays images and footage that showcase daily Black American Life. This documentary shows footage to the average black viewer that they might not have seen before.

A documentary should be essentially what the filmmaker wants it to be. The filmmaker should decide how the audience wants to feel and base everything off of that. If the film is about something as culturally relevant as black love it should focus on how the moving images will affect the audience. In “Living While Black” although some of the subjects do explain their negative experiences with how black love has been portrayed the filmmaker adds archival footage of black families, movies, and other videos that are being played in the background. This creates an emotional connection with the audience by displaying things they might not have seen before. In between each video there are images being displayed of black love, families, and black men and women. This establishes a more personal connection with the filmmaker and its film as it relates to the audience. Every filmmaker should add something personal to their film, as if to share something personal with the audience.

Black documentaries should be whatever the filmmaker wants to achieve. They should have complete control and access to footage and editing towards their film.


“One of the main reasons why I wanted to film about black love is because we have so many positive examples that i wanted to highlight.” ”But at the same time there are many issues that we need to be aware of and discuss.” One of the main aspects of the film is the use of archival footage of black people. “I wanted to showcase vintage footage of black people in the 1900’s because we don't get to see a lot of that footage pushed in our faces and in the media.” In this film footage that is most widely recognized wouldn't have as much of an impact as it would using archival footage. “I felt that black people seeing this would pay more attention to footage they have not been exposed to vs movies they have already seen even though that's what the subjects are talking about in my film.” The archival footage that is placed in the film is in a very strategic order and was specifically picked. “When you see old footage of black people you're mostly going to see pain and suffering, I wanted to show black people living, eating, smiling, being with their family etc so when we see these images it makes us feel good.” “It is exposing us to life back in that time outside of pain.”- Mia Upshaw


Mia Upshaw Productions was started by 2017 by a young black female filmmaker. Upshaw wants her company to give representation and opportunities to other African American filmmakers, actors,etc. She wants her films to “give positive feel good” emotions that inspire young black people.


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