Black civil rights activist Grace Lee Boggs is one of the most intelligent and energetic 97-year-old women to ever grace the screen. Every second that she’s in the frame, you can feel her active mind working through a problem, an assortment of bulbs flickering on simultaneously. Director Grace Lee, who coincidentally shares the same name as the famed Asian-American woman that reshaped the thinking process of those she encountered, takes us on a philosophical roller coaster ride with her stunning American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. After first meeting Boggs nearly twelve years ago, Grace Lee felt compelled to return to the woman that influenced her more than she could ever realize. The reunion was more than worth it, as Lee derives an autobiographical tale that is almost too incredulous to be believed.
Where to begin with the fascinating Grace Lee Boggs? Born in America, she was intrinsically involved in its evolution as a country, and from an early age took a liberal stance to better the lives of minorities living in the ghettos of major cities. The African-American civil rights movement was a defining moment for Grace Lee Boggs. Not only was the movement an opportunity for the philosophically-inclined Boggs to use her collegiate skill-set to educate both the oppressed and their ignorant oppressors, but it also restructured her methods as a revolutionist. Boggs went from a pro-violence, Malcolm X stance to a more pacifist, lets-talk-our-problems-out Martin Luther King, Jr. one.
The most valuable piece of information we learn from Boggs is that from discussion and debate comes forth an evolved way of thinking, an answer closer to the truth. Lee uses her subject to challenge and evolve our own thought process. While the score can sometimes hit its aggressive cues a bit too obviously, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs has the power to change the world by reshaping our binary cerebration. The film is currently part of the Documentary Feature Competition at LAFF this year; check out the trailer below: