Now! is a short film created in 1965 by Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez. The film was created using pre-existing footage, also known as “found footage,” from newsreels and still photographs. This found footage documents the struggle for racial equality waged by Black people and their allies in the face of violence, torture and death at the hands of the police and other white-led groups. The images are set to the song, “Now,” performed by actress, singer, and civil rights activist, Lena Horne. The song rebukes the failure of the U.S. to realize the ideals of equality and justice for all embedded in the Constitution. In calling out this hypocrisy, the song serves as a rallying cry for people to unite in order to combat inequality and injustice in the present moment: NOW! The song was banned in the U.S. on the grounds that it would incite revolt. Alvarez edited the found footage to the song, creating a dynamic and powerful testament to the need for social justice. Now! serves as an example of how remix filmmaking can reimagine found footage to create new forms of expression that can challenge dominant and oppressive ideologies.
What commentary does the film make by showing Black people being subject to the violent attacks of whites and the police? How does the film represent protests and demonstrations?
How do the editing and other stylistic strategies (superimposition, dissolves, zooms in and out, etc.) as well as the relationship between the visuals and audio help convey the argument?
How do you interpret Alvarez’s decision to end the film with the word “NOW” being spelled out through gunfire? How did this moment impact you?
In what ways does the film reflect our contemporary reality with regards to race relations and inequality? In your opinion, what kinds of protest prove most effective in galvanizing social change?