“Back to work, dreamer.”Guard
Afrofuturism is an aesthetic exploring the intersection of African diaspora culture with science and technology, creating speculative fiction that liberates black identity from the present. The Afrofuturist musical Neptune Frost is a collaboration between American writer and musician Saul Williams and Rwandan director Anisia Uzeyman. Its world-building begins with the music, percussive with insistant polyrhythms providing an early statement of intent: the songs blend a respect for traditional ancestral roots with the sound of activism and protest. “What is mine?” asks a voiceover, as we see coltan miners representing the continuing exploitation of African resources and labour, no longer by colonial powers directly but now for the benefit of Big Tech. Yet Neptune Frost’s story of an intersex runaway and a miner joining hacker collective also explores the contradiction that it is the same technology which empowers people to unite, to share ideas and to liberate themselves from oppressive systems. Uzeyman’s creative cinematography is astounding, particularly in the darker, dreamlike scenes with beautifully lit black skin contrasted with vibrant fluorescent paints to conjure otherworldly ecstasy. The film’s layered themes can lack clarity of purpose (particularly from a plot-driven perspective) but they do coalesce into an aesthetic whole that feels vital and original, the message and the medium being entirely intertwined in a way that will leave you vibrating. Neptune Frost has just received a limited release in the UK so — if you have any interest in Afrofuturism that goes beyond Black Panther — do seek it out.
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