Black Radical Imagination: Fugitive Trajectories
Friday, May 17, 2019
Project Row Houses
2521 Holman Street
Houston, TX 77004
Black Radical Imagination is a film showcase programmed by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae and is originally co-founded by Erin Christovale and Amir George.
Black Radical Imagination is an international touring program of experimental short films emphasizing new stories from within the African diaspora. The series builds on afrofuturist, afrosurrealist, and magical realist aesthetics to interrogate identity in the context of cinema. Black Radical Imagination was co-founded by Erin Christovale and Amir George in 2013 and has screened in spaces such as MCA Chicago, MoMA PS1, Black Star Film Festival, and articule in Montreal and was recently featured at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow in exhibition form.
The notion of the Black Radical Imagination stemmed from a series of discussions around the boundaries and limitations that are historically placed upon people of color. Specifically, in the film industry these restrictions are often digested and maintained to propel a vicious cycle of negative identification. Black Radical Imagination invokes a futurist aesthetic where artists identify themselves and reclaim their own unique stories. The visual pieces delve into the worlds of video art, experimental film, and narrative shorts. They also focus on access to new media such as animation and graphic design to highlight how these processes enhance our storytelling and the visual artistic practices underway in our communities. Each artist contributes their own vision of a free changing world in a post-modern society through focused observations that explore the state of black culture.
This year’s program FUGITIVE TRAJECTORIES explores the various ways that Black people are tending to the complexity of our lives without reinforcing the traumatic histories, both personal and collective, as well as the troubling present that accompanies contemporary Black life. The films featured in our 2018 program focus on a wide variety of themes such as death and grief, language and memory, and family and notions of home as a way to carve out new inroads to self-actualization and freedom. Taken together, these films pose the following questions: what does it mean to exist in relation to violence? How does the past live through the present in both beautiful and terrible ways? And how can we begin to imagine Black life beyond the structuring modalities of resistance and survival?
“Without new visions, we donʼt know what to build, only what to knock down. We not only end up confused, rudderless, and cynical, but we forget that making a revolution is not a series of clever maneuvers and tactics, but a process that can and must transform us” - Robin D.G. Kelley, Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
Jheanelle Brown is a film curator and arts educator based in Los Angeles. Her curatorial practice is committed to honoring, expanding, and empowering Blackness in visual and filmic media. Her specific interests are oriented around experimental and non-fiction film and video, the relationship between musicality and cinema, political film and media, and West Indian film/video. She is currently co-curator for Black Radical Imagination, an associate programmer for Los Angeles Filmforum, and a curriculum developer for the Centennial High School film club. Jheanelle is co-curator of Time Is Running Out of Time: Experimental Film and Video from the L.A. Rebellion and Today which is currently on view on Art + Practice in Leimert Park, Los Angeles.
Darol Olu Kae is a filmmaker and film curator from and based in Los Angeles. He currently attends USC’s Cinema & Media Studies PhD program where his research examines the aesthetic and pedagogical significance of black film history in relationship to the institutional development of film education and film training in American universities, with a particular focus on the “L.A. Rebellion” film movement. His artistic, academic, and curatorial interests are committed to exploring the complexities and possibilities of a black film aesthetic. He is currently the program coordinator for The Underground Museum’s Future Filmmakers Program at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in South L.A. and recently co-curated The Site of Memory: Enframed Histories as Ritual (2017) with Jheanelle Brown for Los Angeles Filmforum.
Ephraim Asili is a Filmmaker, DJ, and Traveler whose work focuses on the African diaspora as a cultural force. His films have screened in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival, NY; Toronto International Film Festival, Canada; Ann Arbor Film Festival, MI; San Francisco International Film Festival, CA; Milano Film Festival, Italy; International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands; MoMA PS1, NY; MOCA Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; and the Whitney Museum, NY. As a DJ, Asili can be heard on his radio program In The Cut on WGXC, or live at his monthly dance party Botanica. Asili currently resides in Hudson, NY, is a Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts Department at Bard College, and distributes his films with Video Data Bank.
Cecile Emeke is an artist from London, most widely known for her work in film, television and moving image, in particular, the short film turned series 'Ackee & Saltfish' and the docu-series 'Strolling'.
Alima Lee is a Los Angeles based filmmaker & visual artist creating work based in race & personal identity. She creates video art using VHS and analog film mediums. Alima is the co-founder and art director of music label Akashik Records and creator or 1994 magazine. She has had solo exhibitions at HVW8 gallery & Space15twenty and screened with Echo Park Film Center, The Black Aesthetic & Superchief Gallery. Jenning's work has spanned many facets of the arts including set design, collage, photography and printmaking.
Jenn Nkiru is a visionary artist and director from and based in Peckham, London. An MFA in Film graduate of Howard University, her first film EN VOGUE shot by Bradford Young & Arthur Jafa screened internationally to critical success. Previous credits include a documentary series for Redbull and a campaign for photographer Rankin where he selected Nkiru as one of 20 of the "industry's top directors and most creative talent". Additional credits include short films for the BFI, Conde Nast, Channel 4 and the Tate. Her most recent credit is REBIRTH IS NECESSARY, a dreamlike art film centred on Blackness past, present and future premiering on NOWNESS Sept 20th.
Amelia Umuhire is a Rwandese filmmaker, raised and educated in Germany. She directed and produced the fictional web series 'Polyglot' about the lives of young black artists in Europe. The cinematic series is set in Berlin and London and focuses on ideas of home and identity in an increasingly hostile environment. The series was screened at various international festivals such as Film Africa London, Tribeca Film Festival, Festival D'Angers, Geneva International Film Festival where it went on to win Best International Web Series 2015. Amelia Umuhire, who survived the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, explores the millennial survivor experience with unconventional sound and dialogue collage, mixing genres and tones to convey the complexity of loss, uprooting and finally accepting the collective and individual past.
The Ancestors Came by Cecile Emeke (5:00)
A short film exploring the life and work of prolific artist Faith Ringgold by eschewing linear narrative and drawing connections within her collection of works, in order to hint at a larger narrative that is weaved throughout.
Garden by Alima Lee (5:00)
Garden focuses on black women's healing and daily rituals in order to overcome anxiety & depression on a daily basis. Our protagonist struggles, yet persists to honor herself by accomplishing tasks that seem mundane but are essential for her survival.
Fluid Frontiers by Ephraim Asili (23:00)
The fifth and final film in an ongoing series of films exploring Asili’s personal relationship to the African Diaspora. Shot along the Detroit River, Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of local Detroit Artists. All of the poems are read from original copies of Broadside Press publications by natives of the Detroit Windsor region and were shot without rehearsal.
Under Bone by dana washington (5:00)
A narrated experimental-drama featuring ethereal vignettes linked by a woman’s devotion, grief and ancestral evocation, as she traverses stories beneath her rib cage.
Rebirth is Necessary by Jenn Nkiru (10:00)
This film explores the magic and dynamism of Blackness in a realm where time and space are altered. The now, the past & the future are rethought and reordered to create something soulful and mind bendingly visceral. Unfolding through the gaze of Jenn Nkiru, it is an audio - visual feast which pulls on broad yet unique sound and visual references to push the story forward. The soundtrack features music and sounds from James Baldwin, Sun Ra, Chance The Rapper, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Rotary Connection, Pharaoh Sanders and Shafiq Husayn. It also includes quotes and moments from Alice Coltrane, Audre Lorde, Kwame Nkrumah, Sun Ra and James Baldwin.