derica shields

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Mother of George (2013) | dir. Andrew Dosunmu

With cinematography by Sundance award winner Bradford Young and styling by Mobolaji Dawodu, it goes without saying that Andrew Dosunmu‘s Mother of George is the most sumptuous film you’ll see this year. Although Dosunmu’s new film is more plot-driven than his first, Restless City (2010), Mother of George is also impressionistic, privileging the power of gesture to tell a story. Shots of hands working a knife capture the new wife, Adenike’s domestic pride. Later, though we do not hear the precise exchange of words, the camera alights on a neck with tendons strung tight, an arm draped protectively across a stomach.

The film’s opening shots embed us in the exquisite detail and elaborate beauty of a Nigerian wedding in New York. Gorgeous as it is, the atmosphere of these opening scenes is as heavy with the warmth and security of familial love and close-knit community as it is weighted by familial expectation and keenly-policed cultural norms. What unfolds is a story of love, longing, heartbreak and meddling mothers-in-law (it is a Naija film after all). —Derica Shields

Watch the trailer below:

More on about Mother of George on Studio Africa 

Black Girls Talking: In one of your statements you quoted Samuel R. Delaney. For him sci-fi is about “what the world might be.” From the films you screen, the future seems doomed, which goes against most mainstream sci-fi narratives, especially in movies, where someone has to save the future/world. Are you pessimistic about the future?

Derica Shields: Yes, that quote comes from this brilliant interview by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah for the Paris Review. We got into this discussion at the March screening of “Remote Control” held at Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn with the likes of Lara Weibgen, Frances Bodomo, Ja’Tovia Gary, Maryam Kazeem, Wendy James Palacios, Shola Amoo and more amazing people. As part of the screening, we show a set of curated clips, and one of the clips was from a fantasy scene in “I’m a Cyborg but That’s Okay” by Park Chan Wook. We talked about why in mainstream sci-fi there was always a white guy trying to save the world, whereas in “I’m a Cyborg” the main character fantasises about shooting up the entire place, just destroying the whole structure.

Through discussion, we came towards this idea that white men in mainstream films save the world as it is because this world actually serves them quite well: they have power, or the means of accessing power, so the end of the world registers as catastrophic for them. Who knows who might replace them in the ruling class? But for those of us who have nothing to lose by abandoning the structures that exist now which actually legislate against our existence, the impulse is not to save this world but to destroy it: radical change is not just desired but vital.

vimeo

Derica Shield’s short film Unfinished Conversation made on the Digital Desperados free filmmaking course for women of colour will be screening at the GFT on Sunday 30th November….and a DD member will be taking part in a discussion following a screening of Born in Flames alongside our friend Rosie Lewis of the Angelou Centre

Model: Alima Fofana | Photographer: Agatha A. Nitecka | via: Flickr

It’s not often that black models are shot in soft colours. In fashion, pinks and pastels are reserved for paler complexions, while black models are mainly used to showcase the bold colours that make white skin appear washed out, or the leopard/zebra/‘ethnic’ prints in fashion that season. It might seem strange to complain about this in an industry where black models are chronically underused, and where fashion editors would sooner hire white models and black them up than get a black woman in for the shoot.  In this context, the observation that black models don’t wear pink might seem the least of our worries.

But consider that colours like soft pink, baby blue etc. are commonly associated with femininity, delicacy, vulnerability, whimsy and play. While demanding greater numbers of models of colour on the runway, it’s also worth thinking about how limited and limiting the representations of black women can be. Styled as powerful, fierce, sassy, divalike, sexy or imposing, black women in fashion do not appear in their diversity. Where are the gentle, soft, vulnerable, gauche, fawn-like black models modelling pretty spring looks? 

This lack is why Olympia Le-Tan’s SS13 collection, modelled by dancing black women miming into hairbrushes and wearing penny loafers and bows and Alec Wek pretty in Jasper Conran pink (as opposed to her oiled skin being used as contrast) were such refreshing fashion moments. And these shots of Alima Fofana also stand out for representing a side to black women that is all too scarce in fashion pages. We know all about black lady divas, but this shot reminds us of the soft edges, the vulnerable underside of that commonly presented face of black womanhood. 

THE FUTURE WEIRD features 37thstate's NKIRU in Brooklyn

Our short film Nkiru is being featured at The Future Weird series in Brooklyn New York alongside some heavyweights. If you’re in NY make sure you go check the collection of films on offer. This month’s theme is BLACK ATLANTIS!

“The Future Weird: Black Atlantis” - An evening of films by Akosua Adoma Owusu; Nikyatu Jusu; Bolaji Kekere-Ekun + the U.S. Premiere of Simon Rittmeier’s#Drexciya Monday 8/26 @ 8PM Spectacle Theater 

At 8PM on Monday 26 August, at 8PM we’re going in search of the “Black Atlantis”. While last month the selection of films documented bodies produced by force, during this month’s 90 minute program of shorts we’re looking at how water figures in the works of black filmmakers who are imagining the future or reflecting on the past.  We’ll look at films that treat water as a cleansing force through which our bodies may be reborn (think baptism), and as a site of memory where disappeared and suppressed things resurface, wash up, or return to us as detritus. Traversing cinematic waters we come across slave dungeons reimagined as castles in the sand, African mermaids into mind-control, Tanzanian beach boys swindling tourists, and a German refugee smuggler from the future wants to find the fabled African city Drexciya.

As part of the screening, we show a set of curated clips, and one of the clips was from a fantasy scene in “I’m a Cyborg but That’s Okay” by Park Chan Wook. We talked about why in mainstream sci-fi there was always a white guy trying to save the world, whereas in “I’m a Cyborg” the main character fantasizes about shooting up the entire place, just destroying the whole structure.

Through discussion, we came towards this idea that white men in mainstream films save the world as it is because this world actually serves them quite well: they have power, or the means of accessing power, so the end of the world registers as catastrophic for them. Who knows who might replace them in the ruling class? But for those of us who have nothing to lose by abandoning the structures that exist now which actually legislate against our existence, the impulse is not to save this world but to destroy it: radical change is not just desired but vital.

—  Derica Shields, Founder of “The Future Weird” via Black Girls Talking