James Spooner is the director of Afro-punk, a documentary film exploring race identity in the punk scene. He produced his film mostly out of New York, having had no previous training in film (he'd studied sculpting in college). As a DIY effort, he rigorously toured the film across the country like a band, showing it as many venues as possible, and rapidly amassing a devoted cult following, largely among minority punks centralized around a message board on his website afropunk.com.
He also has another feature film called White Lies Black Sheep, which is more a fictional dramatization of the same concept. It premiered at Toronto international Film Fest and is on the festival circuit now.
He was born in the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia, but grew up in America on both coasts with a black father and white mother. All his life he was part of the predominantly Eurocentric punk scene, but had always considered himself to be black, despite being the only biracial kid in his family and his siblings often referring to him as "their white brother". After visiting his birthplace in the predominantly black St. Lucia for the first time since toddlerhood however, he began to reevaluate himself culturally. He'd always considered the islands his home, and had never considered the possibility of anyone seeing him as anything other than black, but he realized here for the first time, by some, he might be considered white.
He grew increasingly fascinated with the strange phenomenon of nobody (including himself and his friends) actually discussing race relations or exploring the mostly untold stories of the black experience in the punk scene, despite the plethora of accomplished black artists like Mick Collins, Fishbone, Vaginal Davis, and Bad Brains, and indeed punk rock's origins as an offshoot of rock and roll itself and the pioneering work of innovators like Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Jimi Hendrix.
Read more about James Spooner: Personal Statement From WhiteLiesBlackSheep.com
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