african filmmaker

i’ve seen so many things abt french new wave and all these french directors and how innovative they were but i’ve seen nothing be said abt films like touki bouki and filmmakers like Djibril diop mambéty his films are so beautiful visually and i’ve barely seen any articles or discussions abt them? and there are loads of other african filmmakers who have made beautiful films but don’t get ounce of praise for their filmmaking and i genuinely think it’s due to antiblackness and xenophobia and this idea that african cinema isn’t ‘real’ cinema or as good as european cinema and that the only films that come out of africa are over the top with bad acting (there’s nothing wrong with those films tho they’re fun to watch tbh)

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In 1991 Julie Dash premiered her first feature, Daughters of the Dust, at the Sundance Film Festival, which went on to win the award for Excellence in Cinematography. The film is set in the early 1900s and follows a Gullah family of women preparing to move from the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina to mainland America. Daughters of the Dust was the first film directed by an African American woman to receive a national release. 

The film appears to be a source of inspiration for Beyonce’s Lemonade. The visual album echoes imagery from the film with shots of young African-American women in the Southern wild and desolate beaches wearing turn of the century garments. 

Daughters of the Dust screened at the Festival again in 2012 as a part of the “From the Collection” program. The film has recently been digitally restored by Cohen Film Collection and will screen at film festivals and theaters in addition to a Blu-ray release this fall. Click here to view a trailer for Daughters of the Dust.

Film stills courtesy of Daughters of the Dust

Rest in peace, Oscar Micheaux.  Considered not only the first African-American filmmaker but also the most successful African-American filmmaker of the 20th Century, many of Micheaux’s films were based on novels he wrote.  He died on this date in 1951 at the age of 67.  His grave in Great Bend, KS, reads “A man ahead of his time.”  Truth.

Stamp details:
Issued on: June 22, 2010
From: New York, NY
SC #4464

npr.org
Restored 'Race Films' Find New Audiences
Some of the earliest movies by African-American filmmakers from the 1910s through 1940s languished in film archives over the years on poor-quality film prints. Now some have been digitally restored.

if i was good with words and could express my opinions well i’d write something abt how how ppl will praise european cinema and view european cinema as being important to the history of cinema but won’t say anything abt how important african cinema is and african filmmakers have been for cinema

Despite the new conditions that allowed African filmmakers to be more productive, Sembène’s inveterate critical streak did not aid his cause. His screenplay for Black Girl, with its resolutely noncelebratory take on postindependence life for the Senegalese, was the only one ever rejected for production funding by the then head of the Ministry of Cooperation’s Cinema Bureau—the key funding body for francophone African cinema—on the basis of subject matter alone. Accordingly, Sembène invented the term mégotage (a riff on montage, translating roughly to “cigarette-butt cinema”) to describe the lengths to which African filmmakers had to go to scrape together budgets.

Black Girl, then, can be understood as the product of a lifetime of negotiating challenging power relations. Sembène subsumes this wellspring of complexity into the radiant, statuesque form of his central character, Diouana, who is first seen lonely and shaken at the docks, having arrived in France from Senegal on a boat whose horn blares like a demonic warning clarion against viciously whipping winds. The film’s first words—articulated in Diouana’s plaintive voice-over—are: “Has anyone come for me?” A point-of-view shot takes us into her head space as she watches the hustle and bustle with a dispassionate gaze; it’s an unspectacular yet thrilling moment, fully immersing us in the world of an African character. It’s clear, immediately: this is her story. (It’s worth pointing out that funding constraints forced Sembène to dub Diouana’s minimal yet poetic interior monologue in French, a compromise that has the powerful dramatic effect of reflecting the psychic weight of colonialism: she must craft her inner self in a language she cannot speak.)

BLACK GIRL: Self, Possessed by Ashley Clark 

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EMEMBERING GORDON ROGER ALEXANDER BUCHANAN PARKS (November 30, 1912 - March 7, 2006)
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was an African-American photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer who used his prodigious, largely self-taught talents to chronicle the African-American experience and to retell his own personal history. He is best remembered for his photographic essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film, Shaft. In 1948, Parks became a staff photographer for Life magazine, the FIRST African American to hold that position. Parks, who remained with the magazine until 1972, became known for his portrayals of ghetto life, black nationalists, and the civil rights movement. A photo-essay about a child from a Brazilian slum was expanded into a television documentary (1962) and a book with poetry (1978), both titled Flavio. Parks was also noted for his intimate portraits of such public figures as Ingrid Bergman, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Muhammad Ali. Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks received the: Spingarn Medal · National Medal of Arts · NAACP Image Award – Hall of Fame Award (1984) and
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas on November 30, 1912. He died March 7, 2006, in New York City, New York at the age of 93.

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The True Story Of This Great Dane Time-Lapse Video Is Even More Moving Than What You’ve Heard

South African filmmaker Dave Meinert wasn’t sure how long Pegasus the Great Dane would have when he took her home. She had some bad prospects, due to her breed, compounded by her specific provenance – people Meinert describes as irresponsible breeders, who’d produced pups especially prone to health problems, including deafness and blindness.

Read our full interview with the owner about how this pup is thriving. 

vimeo

To Be or Not to Be…Black

This is no way food related, but in every way justice related and I encourage anyone who sees this post to take a few minutes to watch and reflect. This video was created by a number of young African American artists: writers, actors, and filmmakers. I am so proud of how they took this classic soliloquy and repurposed it to express their feelings about our present day civil rights struggle. Hope you all enjoy! Please be sure to share! 

Directed by: Aeryn Michelle Williams (Tumblr: AMDayTime)

Filmed and edited by: Harold Erkins 

Soliloquy delivered by: Troy Dangerfield, Harold Erkins, JaRon Ferguson, Jeremy Tardy, Courtney Perdue, Stefan Dezil, Randy Ranz. 

vimeo

MICHAEL | FREE THE TOWN, a feature film

Michael, Brooklyn born and bred, visits Africa for the first time since his hazy childhood to reunite with his powerful Sierra Leonean father. Romanticizing a man and a country, Michael quickly learns reality is never quite as sweet.

FREE THE TOWN interweaves 3 lives in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A native virgin runs from a past riddled with witch accusations, she collides with two strangers: a Brooklyn teen reuniting with his estranged African father and a myopic filmmaker relentlessly pursuing a story of African witch exorcisms. In a country struggling to progress, we discover the past often has an unshakeable grasp on the future. 90 mins.

****FREE THE TOWN IS CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT***

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Sorry. Nope. You may disagree with me, but you don’t get to tell me to shut up because it’s “art.” I shouldn’t even have to preface my critique with “It’s a beautiful film” but if I don’t, my ability to recognize good filmmaking will come into question. As I wrote in my piece I’m not trying to say that we should have happy, squeaky images of Africa at all time. I’m just asking that Hollywood: a) stops erasing African stories and identities in pursuit of tragedy porn and b) starts giving the same praise, attention, and money to African filmmakers telling stories beyond war and disease. But I’m sleep. 

- Z

By Maureen Lee Lenker, who is an avid TCM fan, and a Los Angeles based writer and actress who writes a monthly column, “Dame in the Game,” about women in Hollywood history for Ms. in the Biz.

With the success of last year’s Selma, the first Best Picture nominee directed by an African-American woman, Ava DuVernay and independent African-American female filmmakers came more fully to international attention than ever before. DuVernay had already made history as the first African-American woman to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival for her 2012 feature Middle of Nowhere, making its TCM premiere tonight (though that success did not translate into the same visibility and access that Selma has granted her).

DuVernay is an outspoken champion of black female directors, recently challenging her Twitter followers to devise a list of films starring a female protagonist and directed by a woman of color. DuVernay regular points out inequities on her social media platforms and calls for change in the entertainment industry.

This furthers an effort she began in 2010 to distribute and promote independent films directed by women and people of color. At that time, she founded the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AAFRM), now renamed ARRAY. The organization is a distributor as well as a resource collective for independent filmmakers.

Though DuVernay calls the number of female African-American filmmakers out there a “small sorority,” there are a number of women who blazed the path before her, including tonight’s co-host Julie Dash, whom DuVernay has named as a big inspiration.

In “Black Women Film-makers Defining Ourselves,” Alile Sharon Larkin explains Hollywood’s role in excluding people of color from telling their own story:

From the moment that Africans were brought to the Americas and made slaves, we lost much more than our freedom. We lost control of our image. Film and television have been crucial in this legacy of loss, our loss of name and culture, for Hollywood has the power to rewrite, redefine, and recreate history, culture, religion and politics. Hollywood has the power of the spoken word and the visual image and all sounds and dreams.

It’s crucial then that women, especially women of color, have the opportunity and agency to speak for themselves.

In a book on black women’s literature and film, Judylyn S. Ryan describes how true equality requires “a democracy of narrative participation.” Ryan goes on to explain how the work of Julie Dash as a director demonstrates the need for “representation and participation in national cinema and national history.” Ryan points specifically to Dash’s Illusions (1982) as a film that makes this argument by revising the history of classic Hollywood.

           Tonight’s featured film Daughters of the Dust (1991), which Dash fought to get made from 1975 through its 1991 Sundance debut, also speaks to this need for “a democracy of narrative participation.” The film stresses family ties and historical awareness as crucial to the women at its center, even keeping the dialogue in Gullah without subtitles; it emphasizes a historical consciousness that can be heightened by cinema. As Ryan explains, “black women filmmakers frequently return to the past in order to reinscribe the history of Black women’s agency as a basis for constructing future agency.”

           All of tonight’s films focus on this construction of future agency for their black female protagonists. Dash accomplishes it by reclaiming a narrative of the past and figures traditionally marginalized in the historical record. Losing Ground (1982), Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (1992) and Middle of Nowhere (2012) tell the stories of contemporary black women who already possess agency as a philosophy professor, a girl with college aspirations and a medical student, respectively. Circumstances in their life force them each to go on a further journey of self-discovery to develop a more internal sense of agency.

           Women of color often feel excluded from the feminist conversation because of the tendency of some white feminists to ignore issues of class and race. Audre Lorde critiqued white feminist attitudes in the 1980s: “By and large within the women’s movement today, white women focus upon their oppression as women and ignore differences of race, sexual preference, class, and age. There is a pretense to a homogeneity of experience covered by the word sisterhood that does not in fact exist.”

           Thus, in a programming series that celebrates sisterhood and Trailblazing Women behind the camera, it’s essential to include a night of viewing dedicated to African-American independent female filmmakers—to allow their voices to be a part of the conversation; to reclaim their history and their stories. Only now, they’ve become a part of the historical narrative, the story of women in film, themselves.

Sources:

Cooper, Nekisa (November 1, 2012). “Love on the Outside”Filmmaker Magazine.

 Dargis, Manohla (December 2, 2014). “Making History: With ‘Selma,’ Ava DuVernay Seeks a Different Equality”The New York Times

Larkin, Alile Sharon. “Black Women Film-makers Defining Ourselves: Feminism in Our Own Voice.” In Female Spectators: Looking at Film and Television, edited by E. Deidre Pribram. London and New York: Verso, 1988.

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde. New York: Crossing Press, 1984.

Ryan, Judalyn S.  Spirituality as Ideology in Black Women’s Film and Literature, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2005.