‘Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project’ Review: An Afrofuturist Space Odyssey

Nikki Giovanni needs to die in zero gravity.

“We don’t have any poets in area,” she says in a speech featured in “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Venture,” a documentary in regards to the elusive artist, directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson.

Giovanni want to journey to the area station to report what she sees, including that, when it’s time for her to go, she will merely be launched into the ether. This need — half jest, half real — drives the biographical venture, by which the administrators attempt to seize Giovanni’s legacy and her Afrofuturist imaginative and prescient for Black ladies.

“Going to Mars” combines archival footage of Giovanni and moments in Black historical past, photographs of area and present-day interviews and speeches to color an expansive image of the poet’s evolution from younger firebrand to elder. Giovanni posits that viewers ought to flip to Black ladies to find out about surviving in area due to our capacity to outlive all of the hardships thrown at us on Earth. All through, the scenes are punctuated by her poetry, learn by each Giovanni herself and the actress Taraji P. Henson.

The documentary presents solely what the poet is keen to present. And Giovanni is a difficult topic: She has agency boundaries, and there are questions she refuses to reply. “You need me to go to someplace that I’m not going to go, as a result of it would make me sad,” she says in response to a query about her childhood. “I refuse to be sad about one thing I can do nothing about.”

But different occasions Giovanni’s work speaks for itself. She received’t focus on how she felt after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, as an example, however what follows is a strong rendering of her poem “Reflections on April 4, 1968,” by which she expresses anger over the injustice. Right here, and usually, viewers should fill in their very own blanks.

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Venture
Not rated. Operating time: 1 hours 42 minutes. In theaters.


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