feature: director james bland provides window into the perspective of a strong man of color with his moving features

August 19, 2016

It is so important that an artist reflect the times. It is even more important that an artist be honest with the times, and with themselves. With director James Bland, these criteria serve as a model for his work- as he translates his personal point of view into that which we can not only relate, but want to see played out.

His most recent work speaks directly to today’s societal climate, while still maintaining a nuanced perspective from its varying characters.

In his own words: “Some key issues I want to explore in my work include black masculinity, sexuality, mental illness, social activism and the flawed American justice system. (…) I write (films) because I have something to say and these are all topics that I have a very strong opinion of base off my personal experience of being a black man who has spent years wearing the mask of masculinity while figuring out how I wanted to identify sexually. One of my best friends is manic depressive. I wrote a character in Giants specifically for her to play because I wanted to give her a place to express how she felt within this illness. As far as social activism and the criminal justice system, we’re living in a time where the world is really questioning if black lives matter. Like, that’s still a question in 2016. The job of an artist is to reflect the times, so I want to be apart of documenting this ear through my work.”

Bland’s pieces are visually, and contextually beautiful. And while he creates from a place of utter truth, he inspires his audiences to open themselves up to revelations as well (just like his characters). Though each film is tinged with a slight solemnity, the redemptive quality (whether impending or immediate) is all the more evocative and powerful. The director to watch, James Bland is using his talents in the best possible way. Check out some of my favorite projects below!

By Cree B. McClellan, AFROPUNK contributor