Black Radical Imagination: Fugitive Trajectories

Film with Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae

Saturday, May 11, 2019
1:00 – 3:00 pm

Location
Auditorium

Black Radical Imagination: Fugitive Trajectories is a film showcase programmed by Jheanelle Brown and Darol Olu Kae, 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 afro futurist, afro surrealist, and magical realist aesthetics to interrogate identity in the context of cinema. Black Radical Imagination has screened in museums, art spaces, and film festivals, most notably MCA Chicago, MoMA PS1, Black Star Film Festival, and articule in Montréal.

This year’s showcase, FUGITIVE TRAJECTORIES meditates on the ways black people tend to the complexities of our lives while forced to move within, through, and around structuring narratives of power, violence, confinement, and trauma—thereby negotiating how the multi-dimensionality of diasporic blackness is understood in relationship to prevailing notions of death, resistance, and freedom. The films featured in this program explore concepts of grief, kinship, an idealized homeland, and the dynamism of blackness and black culture.

“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

FILMS

Garden​ ​by​ ​Alima​ ​Lee​ ​
2017, 5 minutes

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.

Clean Water by Kamau Wainaina
2017, 7 minutes

In a three-part visual soliloquy, Wainaina outlines his ideological journey: immigrating from Kenya to England, and finally New York. Beginning from his parent’s earliest fears and hopes of what life in "the West" would bring to where he is now, Wainaina explores how he sees the world, how others see him, and the ways in which the two perspectives interact with each other in contemporary global society, portraying a cognitive journey that he believes many African immigrants experience in their own ways.

Fluid Frontiers by Ephraim Asili
2017, 23 minutes

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 works by 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.

Mugabo by Amelia Umuhire
2016, 7 minutes

A short experimental film about a young girl's return to the idealized homeland, a place full of borrowed memories.

Rebirth is Necessary by Jenn Nkiru
2017, 10 minutes

This film explores the magic and dynamism of Blackness in a realm where time and space are altered. The now, the past, and 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.

Under Bone by dana washington
2017, 5 minutes

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.

ABOUT THE CURATORS

Jheanelle Brown is a film curator, producer, 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 a graduate of USC's Cinema & Media Studies MA program.

Darol Olu Kae is a filmmaker, curator, and creative researcher from and based in Los Angeles whose artistic and curatorial practice is concerned with the reverberations of collective memory, time, mythology, and history through a critical and contemporary practice that blurs the line between poetics and politics, imagination and reality. Additionally, he serves as program coordinator for The Underground Museum’s Future Filmmakers Program at Dorsey High School in South Central and operates as both curriculum developer and teaching artist at Centennial High School in Compton, where he helped to create an after-school film program.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS

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; LA MOCA, 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.

Alima​ ​Lee ​is a Los Angeles based filmmaker & visual artist creating work based in race and 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 centered on Blackness past, present and future premiering on NOWNESS September 20, 2017.

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. "Mugabo", an experimental short film set in Kigali premiered at "Film Africa" and was in competition at the "Blackstar Film Festival" in Philadelphia, where it was awarded "Best Experimental Film".

Kamau Wainaina is a Kenyan multidisciplinary artist based in New York City, specializing in Film & Photography. Born in 1997, Wainaina has since lived and attended school in England and the Netherlands before attending NYU Tisch's Kanbar Institute of Film & Television where he is currently a junior. Given his sporadic upbringing, much of Wainaina's work has a particular focus on third-culture identity and blackness - specifically its malleability and relativity depending on environment both familial and societal.

dana washington is a multidisciplinary artist with works riffing on Blackness and urban aesthetics, gender-identity formation, memory, and surrealism. Through filmmaking, portraiture, digital media, narrative storytelling, and installation, dana employs realism and imagining Black Utopian life responding to experience, dream visions, social-economic unrest, and research. She also draws from Bebop music, religion, and avant-garde cinema to produce immersive work for spectators. Washington graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Composition. dana is continuing her practice and research as a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts candidate at the University of California, San Diego.