INTERVIEWS

AN INTERVIEW WITH DEZ MIGHTY, DIRECTOR OF "I SEE YOU - EPISODE 1"

Award Winner - July 2021 Edition

. Best Documentary Short




INTERVIEW



Thank you Dez Mighty for an extremely compelling and complex film. How did you choose your panel of speakers?


We were quite fortunate that a member of our team, Kandake, was in contact with several of the speakers we wanted to engage with. Early on in the process, we had decided that we wanted historians, clinical psychologists and celebrity as well as everyday people to give us their view on how life felt to them during the two major challenges at the time.


Once people knew what we were attempting to do, we had an incredible amount of support which meant individuals were happy to give us their valuable time.





While making the film, were you aware that you were going to speak and be heard — and be seen - way beyond the British border?


We had no idea what we were going to do with the film when we were making it. We went about making the film without very much thought around process and little knowledge of the level of investment needed. We made every mistake that new filmmakers could make. All we really knew was this was an important film we simply had to make.


We did have some early conversations with a TV channel that looked promising, yet it was only on advice from a colleague that we decided to go down the festival route which ultimately was the best thing we did.




Have you seen Raoul Peck's "Exterminate All The Brutes" and Steve McQueen's "Small Axe" series? If yes, what's your take on those projects?


I have not seen "Exterminate All The Brutes", however I will add it to my must watch list; as for the "Small Axe" series, I thought what Steve McQueen did was brilliant and i loved the way he dealt with some of the issues of that time. I must confess I love everything that Ava DuVernay has been involved with, the documentary “The 13th” was an inspiration to me and as an aspiring filmmaker I felt her influence the most.


I believe it’s important to have people of colour involved with the telling of their own stories and have creative control of the making of films and documentaries that explore and represent many of the challenges we face.





Since you completed your film, have you observed manifest initiatives, within the "Black British" community, in terms of addressing and healing issues related to mental health?


Mental health issues are a massive problem in the Black community, this alongside the high levels of illnesses… death in childbirth, sickle cell, diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, fibroids… The list is endless and now, challenges with Covid. We also have high suicide rates of Black men, the self harming of young Black woman, all combined it shows a race of people struggling to cope with the everyday challenges of racism and losses with police and society at large.


The U.K. media has never helped with its constant bombardment and misinformation around people of colour and Covid 19. The current U.K. government, in its insistence that the U.K. is not racist while policing itself on this issue, blind to the way it has handled how black footballers are booed for taking a knee or the way it handles any issues around race, does not bode well for the future.


The fear in the Black community, not just in the U.K. but across all of western society, goes unnoticed unless it’s to bring out a new set of statistics to show how disadvantaged we are. It is concerning that for whatever challenges or ills happen in society: somehow, Black people are scapegoated or face backlash on all fronts. It’s easy to blame someone that doesn’t look like you; governments can shift the blame from their own incompetence and wider society will follow their lead.





"Denying racism is the new racism." This is something we can say of and in every white dominated western society. Can this endless twisting of the plot ever come to an end? How?


I really believe racism in whatever form or guise will always exist and yes, perhaps it is time for a new narrative, one that seeks to understand each other’s perspectives.


I believe that people of colour have to resolve many of the issues we have with each other before we can move forward, hence the film title I See You, or "Sawabona" in a South African dialect which means “I understand, I respect and acknowledge you, I feel you, I know what your going through.” I think that once we address the elephant in the room, which is how we see and perceive ourselves, and stop looking outside for solutions, perhaps then the dialogue will change.


People of colour, for what seems like an eternity, have been under a constant pressure which has led to stress, pain, self-hatred and mental health issues. Pressure can break you, but that same pressure can also create diamonds.





What is your take on the idea of Reparations?


Reparations, where do you begin? Western societies have become rich off the exploitation and destruction of Black races, theft of resources and minerals, and enforcement of its theft using laws created to protect themselves.


The West has barely apologised for the brutality it has shown to races that are not white and its treatment of the Black races in particular slavery, apartheid, Jim Crow and its subsequent denial of the parts played in the deaths and enslavement of millions of people considered less than human.


The fact that many of the British and Scottish slave owners were compensated to the tune of billions while the former Black slaves were left penniless and stooped in poverty, left to fend for themselves after being brutalised by slavery, spea