Oscar-Nominated ‘I Am Not Your Negro’: How Editor Alexandra Strauss Cut an ‘Impossible’ Film

Editing is key to the power of Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary.

How do you revive a larger-than-life character who has been dead for 20 years? How do you tell a quintessentially American story when you are not from the United States? How do you wrap some of the most pressing modern social issues into the story of one man and his intimate friendships? And how do you make a film that is composed largely of historic photos and footage feel urgent and contemporary?

These were all objectives of Raoul Peck’s powerful, Oscar-nominated documentary I Am Not Your Negro, and perhaps what led Peck to call the film “impossible to make.” But he was ultimately able to answer these questions thanks to the work of French editor Alexandra Strauss, who wove a trove of archival materials and film clips together with a visceral soundtrack and a moving voiceover by Samuel L. Jackson into one of the year’s most vital documentaries.

One of the year’s most vital documentaries.

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