a thin woman in a hot pink dress and light pink flowing neck scarf
The 1982 classic Losing Ground. Courtesy Milestone Films via NPR

For those lamenting the dearth of films made by and centered on Black women, this several-week series was a welcome and much-needed salve. Programmed for the Doc Films spring 2022 calendar by Erisa Apantaku and J. Michael Eugenio with support from South Side Projections and Arts + Public Life, the series offered an embarrassment of riches: shorts and features, documentaries and narratives, this had it all.

Highlights for me included Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground (1982), which received its theatrical release just eight years ago, having gone unappreciated in its time; local filmmaker Yvonne Welbon’s Remembering Wei Yi-Fang, Remembering Myself (1995) preceding Camille Billops and James Hatch’s Finding Christa (1991), both of which explore family dynamics and the impact of lived experiences; and short works by Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman) exploring the intersection of race, sexuality, and familial ties. The other filmmakers represented in the series were Sarah Maldoror, Rosine Mbakam, Alice Diop, Pearl Bowser, and Madeline Anderson.

Select screenings had introductions; Welbon was in attendance to introduce her film, local programmer Imani Davis spoke before Losing Ground, and Reader contributor Danielle Scruggs was on hand to introduce a screening of films by Khady Sylla and Ngozi Onwurah. Apantaku and Eugenio provided an invaluable resource with this series, and it’s an inspiring template for future endeavors. Especially appreciated was the inclusion of short films, which disenfranchised filmmakers are often relegated to make, due to the greater amount of resources needed (and often denied to them) to make feature films. Programmers of the city, take note: more like this, please. 

Doc Films
South Side Projections
Arts + Public Life

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