This seminar will look at the international legacy of the L.A. Rebellion films and seek to situate these works in the broader history of politics, music and visuals arts. Through the participation of artists and theorists based in the UK alongside visiting filmmakers, the seminar will look at the international reverberations of this period, its impact and connection to global movements from the Third Cinema to film collectives in the UK such as the Black Audio Film Collective and contemporary artists.
This illustrated session will feature screenings of rare early works by Julie Dash, Haile Gerima and Barbara McCullough. Chaired by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Collective, the seminar will include contributions from visiting filmmakers Billy Woodberry (Bless Their Little Hearts 1984) and Barbara McCullough (Water Ritual #1 1979). Special presentations by Jacqueline Stewart (University of Chicago) will explore her research and work as co-curator of L.A. Rebellion project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive and June Givanni will draw on rare material from her Pan African Cinema Archive and reflect on the impact of these films in the UK and internationally.
Listen to the seminar recordings:
Julie Dash, USA 1975, 16mm, colour, 7 min
Julie Dash’s dazzling film was developed in collaboration with the dancer Linda Martina Young who performs all the roles in the story of four different African-American women taken from Nina Simone's iconic song of the same name. Meticulously designed and filmed in beautiful colour, Four Women is both a critical response to Black female stereotypes and one of the most brilliantly realised films about dance.
Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification
Barbara McCullough, USA 1979, 35 mm, black and white, 6 min
Preservation funded with a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant Program funded by The Film Foundation.
Barbara McCullough's Water Ritual is one of the most original films from UCLA and a landmark work blending Black feminism with experimental cinema. Working in collaboration with the performer Yolanda Vidato and filmed by Ben Caldwell and Peter Blue, Water Ritual explores the struggle to mark and create spiritual space within the blighted urban landscapes of Los Angeles. Consisting of a series of symbolic actions drawing on African traditions and iconography, the film seeks to active the viewer as a participant and redeem the landscape through ritual. As McCullough has stated her work is driven by an attempt to 'extract the magical from the seemingly mundane.'
Haile Gerima, USA 1971, Digital video transferred from 16mm, black and white and colour, 14 min
Haile Gerima's first student film features a young African America basketball player troubled by his role as entertainment for white spectators. Brilliantly editing between black and white and colour the highly stylised film has many bold compositions featuring the red, white and blue of the American flag to create a powerful symbolic response to the writings of Martin Luthur King, Malcolm X and Angela Davis. As Gerima has said ‘my characters must struggle, both to define themselves and to overcome their oppression and exploitation.’
Films courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive
June Givanni is a film curator, archivist and international consultant in African and African diaspora cinema: a leader in this sector for more than 30 years. She set up and ran the BFIs African and Caribbean Film Unit; Created the Black Film Bulletin with Gaylene Gould; programmed Planet Africa at the Toronto International Film Festival; and is recognised as leading expert in the field. June has worked to stage major events including the1983 GLC Third Eye Film Festival; The 1995 BFI Screen Griots Programme and Conference on African cinema. June has worked an advisor on Focus Features ‘Africa First’ programme and programmes with international film festivals. June is currently developing an archive based on collections from decades of working in this field.
Barbara McCullough, is an experimental film and video artist seeking to ‘tap the spirit and richness of her community by exposing its magic, touching its textures and trampling old stereotypes while revealing the untold stories reflective of African American life.’ Her film and video projects include: Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification, Shopping Bag Spirits and Freeway Fetishes: Reflection on Ritual Space, Fragments, and The World Saxophone Quartet. Currently, she is completing a film project, Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot, a documentary on the musical genius, community activist and mentor to a generation of accomplished jazz musicians. A twenty-year-plus veteran of the visual effects industry, McCullough is currently Chair of the Visual Effects Department at Savannah College of Art and Design – SCAD.
Jacqueline Stewart is Professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity University of California Press, 2005. Her essays have appeared in Critical Inquiry, Film Quarterly, Film History and The Moving Image. She is completing a study of African American actor, writer and director Spencer Williams. She is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Her film work in Chicago includes founding the South Side Home Movie Project, and serving as Curator of Black Cinema House, a neighbourhood-based film exhibition venue run by Theaster Gates' Rebuild Foundation.
Billy Woodberry is an independent filmmaker who has taught at the California Institute of the Arts since 1989. His feature film Bless Their Little Hearts 1984 won the Interfilm ecumenical jury award at the Berlin Film festival and was added to the Library of Congress' 2013 National Registry of Films. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s When It Rains 1995 and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red Hollywood 1996 and James Benning’s Four Corners 1998. Woodberry’s two-hour video, The Architect, the Ants, and the Bees, was part of 'Facing the Music', a 2004 group exhibition at REDCAT gallery documenting the building of the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the transformation of downtown Los Angeles. His work has screened at the Camera Austria Symposium, Harvard Film Archive, Human Rights Watch Film Festival and Museum of Modern Art.
The Otolith Collective
The Otolith Collective is the name adopted by Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group for its curatorial and programming activities. Recent exhibitions co-curated by The Otolith Collective include It took forever getting ready to exist: UIQ (the unmaking of) by Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thompson, The Showroom, 2015 and On Vanishing Land by Mark Fisher and Justin Barton, The Showroom, 2013. Recent film programmes include Anand Patwardhan: A Cinema of Songs and People, Tate Modern, 2013, Peter Watkins: The Journey, Tate Modern 2013 and the screening series The Militant Image, International Institute of Visual Arts, 2011–2013.