AMP: Grassroots²

Mtume Gant, Independent Filmmaker

What do you do? I am a dramatic artist—primarily in the method of filmmaking; dramatic art, and I am an educator in the arts where I mainly teach cinema theory and directing. I approach everything I do from a radical art perspective. I use critical theory to teach film, theatre, and in the films I make.

What is your why? I’m always looking for an authentic expression of self but also politics and ideologies connected to self. I work personally—I’m using feelings and questions that I’m wrestling with. I’m big into questions and exploration. I’m willing to show that people can fail in life. I’m interested in failure. I’m interested in a storytelling method that’s in unison with the ideas that are being presented. If the story is radical then the storytelling has to be radical. If you are telling a story about a radical artist and you are telling the storytelling in a cookie cutter linear way, it doesn’t work. You can tell more about a subject by how you tell it than what you say. Above all, I try to make films that try to understand why things are the way they are through human expression. I want my audience to grapple with questions rather than giving answers.

I was an artist from a very young age. I was working with artists that were known in the NYC and all the art had social relevance to it. I was always around it. I grew up with political rap and I was in the arts so it was hard not to be political.

I saw the Hugh P. Newton play when I was 16 and that was a big deal. It felt like a coalescence of things. I always had a desire to understand why things were the way they were. And growing up in Harlem working class but having these experiences downtown where I was usually the only Black kid there meant I had to reconcile those things on my own.

What is your why? Part 2

I would say my films are inherently political because I am political. I make radical art. But there was a time when I tried to make the game. I was auditioning as an actor in Hollywood but I would always have an ethical dilemma. I got a part at 18 with a famous actor and I was to play a clichéd mentally unstable Black kid. It was fucked up. When I originally auditioned for it it wasn’t that way. But the playwright kept adding stuff that was so fucked up to Black people and to people with disabilities. In Hollywood, I kept coming up against race and ethics so I was out. It didn’t sit well with my vision of my existence. I want to work with people I respect and make art that means something and makes people think.