The big-name movies may get most of the press at film fests, but it's often unearthing the jewels of the smaller indie films with less publicity that makes a film fest great for me. White Lies, Black Sheep, the newest film from Afropunk director James Spooner, examines issues of race and racism refracted through the lens of the New York City rock scene. With Afropunk, a 66-minute documentary, Spooner took a look at racism through the stories of four black punk rockers. White Lies, Black Sheep picks up the thread more or less where Afropunk left off, this time in a mockumentary-type film that blurs the lines between truth and fiction. In White Lies, Black Sheep we meet AJ, a young black kid in New York City who, in embracing the predominantly white rock music and party night night life, actively rejects anything he perceives as being typically "black." AJ, who straightens his hair, wears tight-fitting rocker-boy clothes and dates only white girls, insists that race isn't even an issue to him; and yet, his nearly obsessive rejection of everything that could be construed as "black" belies that assertion.
We get to know AJ both through the camera following him around, and through a series of "interviews" with his friends -- a delicious assortment of New York City party people with such interesting job titles as "promoter," "DJ," "Go-go Dancer." How do they feel about AJ? Well, he's not really black -- at least, not "black" black. Sure, his skin is dark, but he doesn't wear long white t-shirts and baggy jeans, or listen to rap and hip-hop, so he must not be "black," right? Heck, no. AJ's a rocker, AJ makes out exclusively with white girls, AJ's cool, AJ throws a weekly party that he invites everyone in the NYC rock scene to attend (these people's lives apparently revolves around partying every night except for Saturday, which is reserved for the lame yuppy types to get their freak on. AJ is one hip and happening black kid on the mostly white rocker scene.