PRINT Summer 2016

TARGET AUDIENCES: THE FILMS OF MARLON RIGGS

Ed Halter

WHEN MARLON RIGGS DIED in April 1994, at the age of thirty-seven, he was immersed in making his fourth feature-length documentary. This final piece, Black Is . . . Black Ain’t (1995), a sweeping video essay on the manifold complexities of African American identity, was completed by his production team in the months following his death. Like many of his generation who developed AIDS, Riggs spent his last days in a hospital, as Black Is . . . Black Ain’t forthrightly reveals in several sequences that show the filmmaker, hooked up to machines, providing narration and commentary from his bed. In