Judas and the Black Messiah is a 2021 American drama film directed by Shaka King. The film is based on the true story of Fred Hampton, the leader of the Black Panthers in Chicago in the 1960s, who was betrayed by FBI informant William O’Neill.
The movie follows O’Neill, who was recruited by the FBI to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and monitor Hampton. As O’Neill grew closer to Hampton and became more involved in the civil rights movement, he began to question his role as an informant. But when the FBI threatened O’Neill with jail time for car theft if he didn’t cooperate, O’Neill was forced to continue his work and ultimately betrayed Hampton, leading to his killing by the police.
Daniel Kaluuya’s portrayal of Fred Hampton was widely praised by critics and earned him a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards. The film also received nominations in other major categories, such as Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.
The representation of the Black Panther Party in Judas and the Black Messiah is complex and nuanced. The film portrays the Black Panther Party as a political and social movement fighting against systemic oppression and injustice faced by the Black community in the United States. The movie also shows how the US government used violence and repression to suppress the Black Panther Party and other civil rights movements. But the film also revealed some internal struggles and tensions within the Black Panther movement, such as divisions among party leaders and ideological differences in strategy and tactics.
The movie also addresses concerns by some Black Panther leaders that armed violence could alienate some of their followers and weaken their support. Overall, Judas and the Black Messiah portrays the Black Panther Party as a complex and multifaceted movement that faced many challenges in its pursuit of justice and equality for the Black community.
It’s important to create an audiovisual culture that recognizes the victories and struggles of the movement and critically examines the structural and systemic factors that continue to perpetuate racial discrimination and oppression in the United States. In the future, we may see a series of films about the anti-racist struggle in the US since 2020. Cinema has a social role of transporting us to unreal worlds that we consider potentially real and bringing these dynamics into our environment and world. If language is a creator of rarities, cinematic language is not exempt from this.
Judas and the Black Messiah is a powerful and moving film that highlights the police and government repression of the civil rights movement in the 1960s in the United States. Additionally, the film offers a critical reflection on the ethics of FBI informants and their influence on the US social movement.