Animation Documentary Movies Music Shorts

Peaceful Protest

Directors – Xhosa Cole, Shiyi Li – 2021 – UK – cert. 15 tbc – 11m


Sax player Xhosa Cole recounts a #blacklivesmatter rally in Birmingham while Shiyi Li provides incredible animated images – from Sheffield DocFest 2021

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of animation at Sheffield DocFest – maybe there is and I’ve yet to find it –  but there IS this terrific little short. The soundtrack is sax player Xhosa Cole’s monologue about driving to Birmingham for a Black Lives Matter rally which people of black, white and numerous other skin hues are attending. Beforehand, he debates whether to take his horn, and does so. At the rally, he runs into his old sax teacher and the pair improvise a duet, defusing a confrontation between a black woman and a black policewoman the details of which he never knows, showing great respect for both parties.

Set against the earnest voice-over are representational images of the narrative veering towards the abstract: Shiyi Li’s kinetic coloured shapes swirl around in a manner worthy of pioneering experimental animator Len Lye, who likewise often set his visuals against jazz music. Li’s imagery flirts with infographic iconography – for example, a walk on foot into the venue traverses a carpet which is also an arrow conveying a purpose, a sense of direction.

The UK may be a place which favours straight white people, but the spirit of this animated gem suggests that there are gay black people out there just muddling through and finding their way but with good ideas heading in the right direction. The country isn’t currently that friendly to animation either, so the use of that medium lends an extra poignancy. This fabulous piece of work needs to be seen as widely as possible. An absolute riot (in a peaceful sense).

Stationary Peaceful Protest plays in Sheffield DocFest 2021 which is taking place in both online and in Sheffield right now.




Sheffield DocFest

Birmingham Flatpack Festival

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