At the New York Film Festival opening party this year, Common gave a surprise performance in honor of Ava DuVernay's 13th. Now, DuVernay has produced a short film, directed by Selma cinematographer Bradford Young, to commemorate Common's new album, Black America Again, which dropped last Friday.
Shot in effervescent black-and-white, the 21-minute short boasts luminous moving portraits of African Americans against dark backgrounds, interspersed with documentary-style scenes from the streets, where women sing at a memorial for Freddie Gray and children get inspired to learn. At length, the film cuts to Common rapping in an empty street: "We slaves to the blocks/On 'em we spray shots/Leaving our own to lay in a box."
According to Common, the short film is a "meditation" on his album's themes, including the Black Lives Matter movement. It's a powerful tribute to—and bid for—solidarity within and without communities of color in America.