Film: Mac Fervor, Malcolm X Style

A short film called iBrotha, starring Neil Rayment from the Matrix sequel, has just finished shooting in London.

The independent production is about a young man so obsessed with Apple Macs he becomes a Malcolm X-like revolutionary, fighting computer bigotry – by any means necessary.

“It’s about that whole religious fervor that grabs Mac users the way it doesn’t with users of other platforms,” said writer/director Jake Barnes, who described himself as a “recovering Mac addict.”

Brother Copland emulates Malcolm X – in a way. (Copeland is the name of Apple’s aborted operating system in development before OS X.)

Rayment, 30, and his twin brother Adrian feature in the upcoming sequel Matrix Reloaded, as a pair of kung-fu fighting villains. The menacing twins play rogue viruses, roaming the Matrix in all-white attire and silver dreadlocks.

The iBrotha movie features a multicultural cast of characters, including Brother Ive (after Apple’s lead designer, Jonathan Ive) and Brother Newton (Apple’s discontinued handheld computer). It also stars an early Macintosh, the 512K.

The movie was shot during the summer in West and Central London. Some of the action takes place at the “Temple of Mac,” a Nation of Islam-like place of worship. It features a lot of hats, dark suits, bow ties and a cricket bat.

It has already attracted the attention of London’s movie industry. Barnes has shown the eight-minute film to a number of producers and heads of movie studios, who gave it a warm reception.

“I thought it had a great premise and it was great fun,” said Richard Holmes, producer of Waking Ned Devine and Shooting Fish. “He’s got great energy and definitely has a future.”

With the backing of the British Council, the movie will soon start making the rounds at film festivals. Barnes plans to submit it to the Turner, Bafta and Cannes festivals.

Barnes said the movie explores the passion Macs inspire, but also shows how obsessive that passion can become.

“I love Macs, but the film’s about the fanatics,” Barnes said. “Those who go a step too far. The premise is: ‘What if Malcolm X evangelized Macs? Would he really?’ Some think he would.”

The movie is a humorous way to look at race and class through the metaphor of competing computer platforms, Barnes added.

The movie’s website is dedicated to the memory of Rodney Lain, a popular online Mac columnist who wrote under the iBrotha moniker. Lain committed suicide in June.

“Rodney was a good writer and decided to take his own life halfway through the production,” Barnes said. “It’s a mark of respect and a way of showing we’re not taking advantage of his infamous passing away.”

Like Brother Copland, Lain was committed to promoting the Mac. Although he had a full-time job, he worked nights and weekends selling Macs at computer superstores, just to get the word out.

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