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“People Who Have Been Relegated to the Background Finally Stepping Forward” | Kobi Libii, The American Society of Magical Negroes

A Black man receives a medal while a crowd of onlookers cheers.Still from The American Society of Magical Negroes.

Films are made of and from places: the locations they are filmed in, the settings they are meant to evoke, the geographies where they are imagined and worked on. What place tells its own story about your film, whether a particularly challenging location that required production ingenuity or a map reference that inspired you personally, politically or creatively?

Ninety percent of this film was shot in Downtown LA, specifically the Arts District. I love that part of town and think it’s singular and vibrant and beautiful. I also don’t think it’s photographed as much as some of the more “iconic” parts of LA.

One way to think about my movie is that it’s about people who have been relegated to the background finally stepping forward and getting their moment in the spotlight. And I fell in love with the metaphor of the DTLA/Arts District doing the same. That neighborhood is not just a supporting character in my film, it’s front and center, scene after scene, and hopefully, like the human characters I’m foregrounding, more appreciated for it.

See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.

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