January 13, 2024 – Nikki Giovanni, the brilliant, plain-spoken author, activist and poet is a breath of fresh air in today's society, in which most public speakers spew out a lot of bullshit. Nikki is a woman who speaks her mind, and she doesn't give a damn what anyone thinks of her. I love this woman.
I'd never heard of her before seeing this film, but now, I am going to check out her poetry. It sounds great as spoken in the film. Nikki, who is now 80 years old, is interviewed at length in this movie, but she is also shown in flashbacks in her youth, most notably in a video of her in a one on one discussion with the great intellectual, James Baldwin (I think this one is on YouTube) in which she easily holds her own.
Nikki has the ability to see the world from unusual perspectives. This leads her to make the connection between American slaves and astronauts. Like astronauts, the slaves landed in a strange new world where they did not speak the language, and where aliens are in charge of everything. Raped by aliens, the slave women nevertheless loved the resulting alien babies.
That's just one reason that Nikki lavishes praise on black women. In truth, black women voters have saved this country from disaster on more than one occasion. Let's hope they are up to it again.
In addition to the interviews and historical footage in the film, there are also videos of some current and past public lectures and readings Nikki has done, and they are all entertaining. Although a stroke and cancer surgeries have slowed her down some, her shining personality is undimmed.
Other family members, like her son, Thomas Giovanni and granddaughter Kai Giovanni, appear in the film. Nikki talks a lot about her book, “A Good Cry: What We Learn From Tears and Laughter” and she also talks about wanting to ride on the International Space Station, and be ejected into space after she dies.
Nikki comes across as someone who does not compromise when it comes to her principles. This gets her in trouble with both conservatives and liberals, but she seems to carry on as popular as ever. One of the best known black writers, she has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and seven NAACP Image Awards. Her work covers a broad spectrum from Black Power to children's books.
This movie, written and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, uses a variety of images, videos and historical footage to fill in some of the details about this complicated woman. Near the end, we see Nikki not only talking about the end of her own life, but she also talks about the end of the world itself, saying that people have ruined it. She's probably right. This film rates a B.
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