“Sunshine State is a work of oral history, an autobiographical revelation … that explores race, identity, racial categorization and stereotypes. MᶜQueen’s story of his West Indian father as an agricultural laborer in Florida is layered over scenes from the 1927 film, The Jazz Singer. If a father’s memory of the 1950s, relayed by his son in the twenty first century, was already an unexpected voiceover for the comparatively archaic film footage on screen, the moment of collision between these two … adds an extra degree of dissonance. His use of negative footage in Sunshine State works to expose the artificiality of the categories ‘black’ and ‘white’ when applied to human forms.
The voiceover in Sunshine State reveals that trauma can be a force that binds, a cord tying one generation to the next with an ineffable tightness. By the end, MᶜQueen and the 1927 film character appear to have something vital in common; their reverse responses to their fathers’ pain and the trappings of their identities turn them into negative and positive images of one another.
Throughout the film, the sun serves as the connective tissue between the past and the present, and serves as a symbol of the changing landscapes of history and identity that McQueen explores in his work.”
Sunshine State was originally commissioned for the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2022 and made possible with the support of the Municipality of Rotterdam, Stichting Droom en Daad, Rotterdam Festivals and Nederlands Filmfonds. Film footage courtesy of Warner Bros.