That project turns on a deceptively simple idea: find black men with a question they want another black man to answer, someone they may not know, someone of a different age, class, location, experience. Have them ask whatever it is while staring straight into a video camera. The film makers then bring those questions to other men — strangers turned into confidants, who answer… this is incredibly simple film making, as noted above, but that simplicity highlights the rigor of the craft involved, the meticulous attention to what its creators wanted to achieve as an aesthetic (and hence rhetorically) powerful piece of work.
As Tom notes in his blog, we were lucky enough to have Chris Johnson and Bayeté Ross Smith of the Question Bridge team on campus last week for the New Arts of Documentary Summit. During a presentation at MIT’s Center for Civic Media (recapped by Matt Stempeck), Chris and Bayeté explained the idea behind Question Bridge:
People who are marginalized live under a cloud of questions, and are rehearsing under those questions, and when you give them an opportunity, they speak, and are empowered by the opportunity.