Out of the Blue (1991)
On January 8, 1989 a Pickering, Ontario flea market was robbed. Witnesses reported the robbers consisted of one white male and four Blacks. Later that day, police disrupted a Scarborough church service, arresting one South Asian boy and four Black youths including a girl of thirteen. All were later released when it was proven that they were in church when the robbery occurred. Julien Didier was twenty at the time and the oldest of the arrested. This tape follows his experience of the events.
“Richard Fung’s Out of the Blue about a young black man arrested by Toronto police in a case of “mistaken identity,” sets all kind of undercurrents in play. It’s at once a glimpse of the complex class relations in black communities, a critique of media responses to the case, and a very perceptive portrait… Where his earlier tapes generally plant themselves at the intersection of personal history and community politics, this one takes on a subject that runs the risk of documentary objectivity. While Out of the Blue seems conceived, like his safe-sex number Steam Clean and Fighting Chance, on gay Asians dealing with HIV, as a functional and inspiring tool, it has the added appeal of constructive dissonance. As deft as the situation requires, Fung manages moments of political alignment between Asian artist and black subject, something rarely attempted in the imaginary community known as people of colour.” (Cameron Bailey, NOW Magazine, Jan. 1992)
“Out of the Blue, the most journalistic of Richard’s works, follows the story of a young African Canadian man, Julian Dedier, who is falsely arrested for robbery by the Toronto police in January 1989. Apprehended while attending a church service, Julian is subjected to racial harassment and a strip search before police realize they have made a mistake. The tape examines how Julian is stereotyped by police as an urban criminal and tracks his experience of the events. Julian, an extremely articulate pre-med student, deconstructs the media spin on the frnt page event, particularly the reduction of his grievances to a racial sound-bite. Julian’s experience came on the heels of several other racially charged incidents in Toronto, and his friends and family address what happened that day within the broader context of police racism. What is revealed is that, far from being extraordinary, Julian’s experience reflects the uneventful and ordinary realities that persistently affect young black men in urban North America.” (Kyo Maclear)