Dubai-based distributor Front Row is partnering with streaming platforms operating in the Middle East and North Africa to offer free digital screenings of US race relations documentary I Am Not Your Negro across the region.

Front Row CEO Gianluca Chakra describes the move as an act of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement, following the killing of George Floyd by a police officer on May 25 which has sparked protests worldwide. 

Under the initiative involving regional platforms BEIN, OSN, Etisalat’s E-Life, Du, Vodafone, Ooredoo, and Omantel, the documentary by Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck will be made available in 24 MENA territories, from June 11 to 17. 

Front Row is also partnering with Emirati indie cinema outfit Cinema Akil on a series of free theatrical screenings on June 12 and 13 at its main Alserkal Avenue arts centre venue in Dubai. Cinemas were allowed to reopen in the UAE in late May following the Covid-19 lockdown, but with a 30% capacity. 

The documentary, which was nominated in the 2017 Academy Awards, is based on US writer and activist James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House. It took the form of personal meditation on US race relations, exploring the circumstances and significance of the assassinations of civil rights activists Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.

“As with most documentaries, I Am Not Your Negro received limited theatrical exposure in our territories but was well received in festivals, on digital and OnDemand as well as on Pay-TV,” said Chakra.  “Given the times, we feel it’s essential that everyone has the chance to see this important film and really think about what it requires to bring change. We do require deep introspection on the issue of racism and how some of our black and brown communities are affected by it in our region. This is not strictly an American problem, it is everywhere.

Chakra noted Front Row had also observed a 48 -hour blackout across all its digital channels in solidarity with the black community.