THE ANGOLA PROJECT

Detroit, the Final Chapter

 

(a feature film)

Critically acclaimed filmmaker, performer and Detroit native Jeremy Xido is making a film about returning home for the first time in 20 years to perform his internationally celebrated multi-media trilogy The Angola Project.  Xido’s plans are unexpectedly turned inside out as the mythological Detroit of his artwork collides with a city in the throes of radical change. What starts as an intimate story about memory and homecoming THE ANGOLA PROJECT : DETROIT reveals the raw power behind the forces transforming Urban America.

 

see below for the full synopsis

Teaser of The Angola Project stage piece

TEDx Fulbright Talk taken from the Angola Project

“Marvelously quixotic...The Angola Project, derives its structure and meaning from the disparate layers stacked up by Mr. Xido and then spread out to create a jostling collage, one that is intimate yet informed by sweeping issues surrounding class, race and identity.”  New York Times

 

 

Synopsis

 

I grew up in Detroit in the 1970’s and 80s as the only white kid in my neighborhood. I’ve worn this moniker like an invincibility cloak my entire life, protecting me no matter where I traveled. It justified my right to be anywhere, anytime.

 

When I left home, I was in a terrible bind. Not black but not quite white, I was asked to become an adult in a profoundly racist and segregated society. Given the privilege of my white skin and dumb luck, I avoided prison—unlike some of my friends—and could get out. With a clouded and confused mind, I hit the road and ran as far and wide as possible, traversing the globe as a performer and filmmaker. Passing as a white man in the white world, I tried to pull the pins and needles from my brain, eventually finding a temporary home in the fabricated universes of my artwork. I moved from one place to the next, making work about identity, colonialism, the way our brains perceive the world and the ways our hearts break. But somehow, no matter where I was, every piece of work I made and every story I told always led back to Detroit, to the streets of my neighborhood. For me, Detroit is where everything begins and everything ends.

 

The New York Times described one of these pieces, The Angola Project, a critically acclaimed trilogy of solo performances that I premiered in some of the biggest theaters in the world, like this: “[The stories] never stop moving, zigzagging back and forth between continents, cultures and forms as Mr. Xido charts the restless and propulsive energy driving him to tell disparate stories. As the various narrative threads unravel and knot, it becomes apparent that all of these stories about other people are on some level intimate stories about the self.”

 

The Angola Project plays with and tears apart the tradition of the Travelogue, in which a traveler’s intention to explore the world “out there” inevitably becomes a complex story of self-discovery. It is a piece about Lisbon, Angola, and China, about identity, international film financing, kung fu, mulberry trees, and the transatlantic slave trade. At it’s heart is always the city of Detroit.

 

THE ANGOLA PROJECT: DETROIT, THE FINAL CHAPTER (working title) is a feature film about returning home for the first time in nearly 20 years to perform The Angola Project. The film will be a collision of the mythological Detroit in my artwork and the contemporary city currently undergoing another round of radical change. Having left as not much more than a boy, I return as a young father, hoping to find personal reconciliation and a sense of home for me and my family. But I arrive to a city engaged in a fierce battle over it’s identity. The fashionable hype around Detroit’s great turn-around is tempered by the United Nations’ citation of human rights abuses for denying citizens access to water. Bold construction projects are offset by an unprecedented number of evictions. It is a city suspended between hope and fear: the profound hope for a better future and the numbing fear that rewards reaped by some will just be the next cycle of suffering for others.

 

THE ANGOLA PROJECT: DETROIT, THE FINAL CHAPTER will be a feature film combining documentary, fiction, and footage of live performance. It will chart my attempts to perform The Angola Project while learning, once again, that the stories I intend to tell are almost always undermined by the unexpected realities I encounter. Meeting with old friends and family, newcomers and old-timers, homesteaders and activists, guys on the corner and pool players at the neighborhood bar, the film unfolds as I walk through the landmine of Detroit at this moment in time. What does it mean when people talk about “saving” Detroit?  For whom? From whom? For what? THE ANGOLA PROJECT: DETROIT, THE FINAL CHAPTER will be a complex and entertaining portrait of how self and place are inextricably and sometimes painfully woven together.