SXSW is known for launching world premieres, yet they reserve special places for 14 carefully chosen Sundance Film Festival selections for their annual lineup. And it was clear from the moment the crowd erupted as its title flashed on the screen and the credits rolled, that none the other 13 films will make as big of a splash at SXSW as Carlos Lopez Estrada's pulsating and original new drama, Blindspotting. Timely, innovative and remarkably poignant, Blindspotting is exactly the film that this country needs at this precise moment in time.
Estrada transports us into the life of Collin (Daveed Diggs), a convicted felon with only days remaining on his probation before he becomes a free man. Collin works alongside his best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) at his ex-girlfriend’s moving company, and he witnesses a police officer kill a fleeing black man on his way home from work one evening. He struggles to shake the memory as his clock to freedom continues to wind down,and he also finds difficulty trying to walk the straight and narrow on the streets of Oakland, where gentrification is running rampant and the local law enforcement view boys from the hood solely as volatile threats
Placing countless societal issues, racial misconceptions and human introspection all under one single microscope, the collaborative trio of Estrada, Diggs and Casal help deliver the most important film of the year. Blindspotting will do for a generation of youth what Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing did for mine. The film touches deeply on sensitive hot button topics, which will assuredly alienate select audiences (cue the internet trolls who have already marginalized this film’s rating on IMDB to a laughable score under 7.0), but sparking any conversation whatsoever is a step in the direction of progress. And that’s what Blindspotting champions, progress. Openly reflecting on its own title as a systemic reminder that we inherently see the perspective of reality we choose to see in any given person or situation, perfection is not realistic, but progress is always attainable as long as we continue to look in the mirror and strive to be better indiviuals in a daily basis. Perhaps most astonishing is the film’s unique ability to place you in the mind-frame of its African American lead. While I’m not suggesting that I fully comprehend what it’s like to be a person of color in today’s America, Blindspotting forces you to question and second guess every decision made by Collin, as if any given choice will be the one that ultimately leads to his demise. It’s eye opening, it’s enthralling and it’s absolutely heartbreaking, all executed with dramatic precision and an onslaught of riotous humor that never lets up. Carlos Lopez Estrada provides sharp direction, dwarfing the stereotypical debut feature by incorporating phenomenal camerawork and vivid imagery that will forever be tattooed in your memory. And Blindspotting wouldn’t be as wonderfully poetic as it is without lead acting talent and co-writers, Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, who push the envelope creatively and have it pay off in huge dividends when all is said and done. Blindspotting isn’t only the best film at this year’s SXSW festival, it will stand as one of the finest films of 2018, period.