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My First Day at ImageNation (Get Out Screening)

My name is Abdullaye Wouadjou, I am currently a rising sophomore at Curry College (Milton, MA), and I am also an intern at Harlem’s very own ImageNation. Although I was told by the co-founder Gregory Gates, that I would be editing videos, setting up for events, and using social media to a market, he neglected to inform me that my first day on the job would be one of the most exciting days of my summer.

On the Monday morning of July 10 I woke up expecting an average first day of work during the evening. To my surprise, I arrived to the RAW SPACE Gallery to find out that ImageNation were screening the film Get Out in Marcus Garvey Park located in Harlem, New York. As soon as I greeted Greg, he and his team instructed me to load numerous items into a van including snacks, chairs, coolers, tables, and tents. This was going to be a big day.

As soon as I arrived to the park, I was astonished by the amount of people present for the screening, because I hadn’t seen this much people in Marcus Garvey Park in a while. In the midst of my admiring of the crowd, I was given the task of selling snacks to the audience via Greg and Moikgantsi Kgama (Founder of ImageNation). Although it was my first time selling anything, it was better than I expected. Ironically, by the time the first film shown 90 Days came to an end, my shift came to an end. Instead of just letting me off, Greg asked me the one question I had been asked all year… “Have seen Get Out?” I shook my head no. He then gave me an astonished look, and said to me, “Technically you are off the clock, but it would be a disgrace if I let you leave without watching this film… Please, find a seat and witness this masterpiece” At first, I thought he was being dramatic, however by the end of the film I realized why so many people had praised the movie.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out might be one of the most avant-garde films in the 21st. I know what you're thinking, “there are tons of great films that are ahead of it’s time!” but let me explain. Peele advertised Get Out as if it was a horror film, but in actuality it is really a thriller. However, the message behind the film is horrific within itself. As young Black man who has encountered institutionalized racism while attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI), I found most of the scenes in the film brutally honest and relatable. I unintentionally mocked the same facial expressions as Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) when certain remarks were made toward him about his appearance, because I knew how it felt to only be praised for my physical characteristics. I even shared his confusion when he came across people who shared his same skin color, but different mindset, because I had met Black people on my campus who didn’t seem to view themselves as Black.

Furthermore, the use of symbolism within the film is probably it’s stronger feature. For example, the use of Missy Armitage’s (Catherine Keener) hypnosis on Chris can be connected to the way white media uses the oppressive past of African Americans to control the minds of black people. In addition, Chris being strapped to a chair as he watches Jim Hudson (Stephen Root) explain the surgical procedure to him symbolizes how Black people are influenced, or even forced to consume media that instills oppression upon them. Furthermore, the silent auction by Dean Armitage (Bradley Whitford) represents the African Slave Trades that took place in the 18th century. I am sure that there are more forms of symbolism, and overall more features that make Get Out a spectacular film, but I have to personally watch it a few more times.

Although the film was incredible, I found watching the film with ImageNation’s crowd at the park screening was even better. The audience came together in unison to laugh, sigh, and of course cheer together during the film. I could sense that everyone in the audience could identify with the story. It was as if each and every one of them were in the film themselves. To conclude, I would recommend everyone to watch Get Out, especially Black youth. I would also recommend Black people in the New York City area to participate in film screenings hosted by ImageNation. In fact, on August 12, ImageNation will be presenting Ava DuVernay’s 13TH a documentary that focuses on incarceration within America and it’s relevance to the 13th Amendment, so I would advise all to join the presentation.

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