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Sorry To Bother You: Boots Riley in the Booth

In the season finale of Don’t @ Me, Justin sits down with Boots Riley, the man, and the legend behind Sorry to Bother You. Boots wrote and directed the film, as well as supervising its soundtrack. After a decades long career as a rapper and lyricist with The Coup and with Tom Morello in Street Sweeper Social Club, Boots was depressed and looking for a new creative outlet.

As a young man, he had pursued music, film, activism and community-building simultaneously and in 2012, he turned back to film. He wrote the screenplay that became Sorry to Bother You, but the film had a long journey to the screen. With a paperback version of the screenplay, a full-length album, and two Sundance labs all before shooting started, the production’s twists and turns mirror the surreal world of Cassius Green in Sorry to Bother You.

Boots Riley draws inspiration from many sources. He shares this mini-curriculum.


Emir Kusturica’s films: Black Cat, White Cat (1998), Underground (1995), Time of Gypsies (1988)

Sergei Parajanov’s Color of Pomegranates (1969)

Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger (1990)

Paul Schrader’s Michima (1985)

The films of Milos Forman

The films of Michael Cimino

The Coen Brothers’ films

Arts and Literature:

The paintings of Jacob Lawrence

The novels of Toni Morrison, notably, Song of Solomon

The novels of Gabriel García Márquez

Ralph Ellison’s novel, Invisible Man


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