Co-presented with the Roxbury International Film Festival: After two Black Chicagoans are killed, millennial organizers challenge an administration complicit in state violence against its residents. Told through the lens of Janaé and Bella, two fierce abolitionist leaders, Unapologetic is a deep look into the Movement for Black Lives, from the police murder of Rekia Boyd to the election of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Available Online: Friday, November 13th – Thursday, November 19th
Director: Ashley O’Shay
Film Details: 2020, 86 minutes, color, sound, English
We’re so honored to co-present this film with the Roxbury International Film Festival. This screening will feature an introduction from Roxbury founder/director Lisa Simmons.
Director Ashley O’Shay and editor Rubin Daniels will attend a live, virtual Q&A with the DocYard’s Curator, Abby Sun on Monday, November 16th at 7PM EST. Register to attend the Q&A HERE. You can submit your questions ahead of time to email@example.com!
World Premiere at 2020 Blackstar Film Festival. Official selection of American Black Film Festival, Cucalorus Film Festival, DOC NYC, Indie Memphis Film Festival, Unorthodocs, and the New Orleans Film Festival.
Unapologetic follows Janaé and Bella, two abolitionist leaders of the Movement for Black Lives, as they challenge state-sanctioned violence from the police department to complicit administrators in Chicago. As her own cinematographer, first-time feature director Ashley O’Shay records their stories with a rare intimacy and piercing insistence on rejecting the structures of our carceral state in both content and in form. In between and drawing strength from their activist work calling for justice for Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald, Janaé pursues a PhD in social work and Bella records a rap album. Over the course of several years, this kaleidoscopic approach brilliantly affirms the complex humanity and fierce pride of these community organizers.
From the opening scene of a protest that disrupts the placid brunching of a restaurant full of white people, Unapologetic resists reformist narratives of Black resistance. Instead of framing the film around the criminal cases against individual police officers, a specific race for political office, or focusing the film on organizers who already held a national spotlight, O’Shay traces the vital community-building organizing work of young, queer Black women with deep roots in their neighborhoods. The public-facing protests and their reverberations are just as important as the planning work behind them, the capacity-building connections between organizers, and the joy inherent in celebrations of lived experience. This film understands that we won’t get the future we want by working within traditional systems and oppressive hierarchies. The future is already here, and its representation is life-affirming. (AS)
Ashley O’Shay Select Filmography
Represent (2020, additional cinematography)
KQED’S If Cities Could Dance (2019, cinematographer)
The Area (2018, assistant editor)