Bill Gunn

To the Black Male Children
Bill Gunn
To the Black Male Children

To the black male children. Philosophy is a prison. It disregards the uncustomary things about you. The result of individual is applicable only to itself. There is a dreadful need in man to teach. It destroys the pure instinct to learn. The navigator leans from the stars. The stars teach nothing. The sun opens the mind and sheds light on the flowers. The eyes shame the pages of any book. Gesture destroys concept. Involvement mortifies vanity. You, are the despised of the earth. That is as if you are water in the desert. To be adored on this planet is to be a symbol of success. And you must not succeed on any terms. Because life is endless. You are as nameless as a flower. You are the child of Venus. And her natural affection is lust. She will touch your belly with her tongue, but you must not suffer in it, because love is all there is. And you are cannon fodder in its defense.


Ganja & Hess (1973)

Ganja & Hess is a 1973 horror film directed by Bill Gunn and stars Marlene Clark and Duane Jones. The film follows the exploits of archaeologist Dr. Hess Green (Jones) who becomes a vampire after being stabbed by his intelligent, but unstable, assistant (Gunn) with an ancient cursed dagger. Green falls in love with his assistant’s widow, Ganja (Clark), who learns Green’s dark secret.

This film contains the only other lead role for Duane Jones, best known for starring in the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead (though he appeared in bit-parts in other movies). The film’s extras included the postmodern novelist William Gaddis and his wife Judith Thompson. The film was screened at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival.

Beauty and Loot
Bill Gunn/Duane Jones
Beauty and Loot

It’s a shock to any system to see perfection. To have perfection hurled at you, the result of centuries of war and pain. No casual pleasure brought about those features. Some great horde of peoples have suffered to bring about that nose, arched in such a way as to exert power over my every hidden appetite. She is black, as all things secret. Black is nature’s hiding place, where she stores her loot. At night, she dares to lie naked under the dark folds of her very own desires. She speaks to no one of night. But gives it, generously, to anyone who has the profoundness, to hunger for it.

That sounded a little too pessimistic lmao. Like this new ~landscape~ of film production, distribution, exhibition, and culture is gonna give black filmmakers a platform to do some slick shit but tbh everyone is chasing the “hollywood” dream. and im afraid we’re gonna fumble it.

Bill Gunn was getting somewhere with Ganja & Hess. Daughters obviously. Dunye’s early shorts are really potent. Isaac & Akomfrah mostly for their video installations. Khalil I guess. Maybe Hype. But that’s it. 

Black DPs are more interesting imo Charlie, Brad, Ernest, AJ. But when black editors become vogue that’s really gonna set. it. off.


10 films that define my aesthetic tagged by @neimanmarcusgarvey

black heat, al adamson, 1976

emotion, nobuhiko obayashi, 1966

tongues untied, marlon riggs, 1989

black is, black ain’t, marlon riggs, 1994

chocolat, claire denis, 1989

days of heaven, terrence malick, 1978

ali fear eats the soul, rainer werner fassbinder, 1974

dolemite, d’urville martin, 1975

the black swan, henry king, 1942

ganja & hess, bill gunn, 1973

I tag…. @gumaasaat @mtungi @fewego @vvaterling @themethodmale @djprefall @bug-gin @babymorocco @thug-sensitive @eparapo @blackgayze @subwaytiles and whoever else wants to do it