CdF x BETWEEN US WE HAVE EVERYTHING WE NEED: Six Readings on Black Feminist Moving Image


Six Readings on Black Feminist Media-Making







1. Karen Alexander, ‘Mothers, Lovers and Others: Films by Black British Female Directors’, Monthly Film Bulletin (October 1989). Read it here.

As Alexander writes in her article:

Over the last 18 months, the work of four Black women directors bears witness to an advance: Dreaming Rivers by Martina Attille, Coffee Coloured Children by Ngozi Onwurah, I’m British But… by Gurinder Chadha and Perfect Image? by Maureen Blackwood… These four powerful films both challenge existing representations and open up possibilities for changing them. Beyond this, however, their very existence points to the suppressed potential of Black women’s creativity and should provide an inspiration, both to those who have been excluded from the means of representation and to those educational and funding institutions responsible for that exclusion.

—— Karen Alexander

2. Jacqueline Bobo, ed. Black Women Film and Video Artists (Routledge, 1998). (Paperback and ebook currently available from Routledge at 20% off)

A comprehensive and conversational compendium, a passion project and a love letter, an archive and an instigation: Bobo’s book is legendary not only for the history and practice it covers, but for its communitarian approach. As Gwendolyn Audrey Foster writes in her review [pdf] for Film Quarterly, “This anthology is notable for its contextualization of these artists within a framework of black feminist cultural critical methodologies, and for the inclusion of black women film and video artists in their own words in essays and interviews.”

3. Martha Gever, John Greyson and Pratibha Parmar, eds. Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video (Psychology Press, 1993)

Queer Looks, co-edited by filmmakers Martha Gever, Pratibha Parmar and John Greyson, blew apart the borders between practice and theory, art and activism, experimenta and porn – with an essay by Barbara Hammer that covers them all. It puts (as Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover’s recent book is titled) “queer cinema in the world”. It’s a community action (dedicated to Stuart Marshall) that hearts theory that has practice at its heart, where Michelle Parkerson’s salute to black LGBT video brushes up against Patricia White’s fanfare for Madame X, under Donna Evans and Jean Carlomusto’s “lesbian visibility lampshade.” (Text taken from Club des Femmes, “Six Essential Books on Lesbian Cinema,” BFI Online).

4. Kara Keeling, The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense (Duke University Press, 2007). Read the introduction here [pdf].

Keeling’s book is an astonishing example of how to do things with film and feminism, including the visual iconography of the women of the Black Panthers. Working with the philosophies of Angela Davis and Antonio Gramsci as much as the canon of film theory, Keeling traces the rare and potent image of the black femme – which is all too often absent from cinema itself – through the visual field, noting how it shapes African American politics and lived experience.

5. Rabz Lansiquot, ‘Some meandering personal reflections on Dreaming Rivers, language and Hostile Environment’, Second Sight: Celebrating the UK’s Black Film Workshop Movement, now and then (19 February 2020). Read it here.

As Lansiquot writes in their article:

I have no conclusion to this piece because there is no conclusion to this work – to Dreaming Rivers’ work in affecting viewers. To Judah’s work in supporting and inspiring new generations of filmmakers and practitioners like myself. To the work of fighting against a system that produces the loss felt by Miss T, her three children, and the violence of racist deportations. Dreaming Rivers is a work that I hope will endure beyond its representational value, as form, as content, as politics and as a work in the tradition of Sankofa. A looking back towards the future.

—— Rabz Lansiquot

6. Yvonne Welbon and Alexandra Juhasz, eds. Sisters in the Life: A History of Out African American Lesbian Media-Making (Duke University Press, 2018). Read the introduction here [pdf].

Like a VIP invitation to the coolest party, Sisters in the Life provides access to long-off-limits company in the trenches of cultural production and exhibition and reveals how queer filmmakers of color came to prominence and how friendship networks nurtured creativity and access. Yvonne Welbon and Alexandra Juhasz are the perfect guides—for their expertise, knowledge of the archive, and first-hand involvement in the history. For anyone who still thinks that great films appear magically out of thin air, this truth-telling volume will be a revelation.

—— B. Ruby Rich, back cover blurb