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Sat 13 Jan 13:30 Rio Cinema, Dalston
‘L.A. Rebellion’, coined by Black Film Review’s Clyde Taylor, refers to a critical mass of American filmmakers of African origin or descent brought together at the UCLA Film School in the late ‘60s. They envisioned an alternative to Hollywood, a new independent cinema sensitive to the real lives of Black communities and interrogating the onscreen representation of Black people in the United States - a revolutionary act for its time, with an enduring legacy.
This event showcases this body of work, which features Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger) followed by a panel discussion hosted by Dr. Clive Nwonka (London School of Economics & Political Science).
The synopsis information shown below for each film is taken from the UCLA website, where you can explore more of the L.A. Rebellion story.
RAIN / NYESHA
Melvonna Ballenger 16 mins
Director Melvonna Ballenger’s Rain (Nyesha) shows how awareness can lead to a more fulfilling life. In the film, a female typist goes from apathetic to empowered through the help of a man giving out political fliers on the street. Using John Coltrane’s song “After the Rain,” Ballenger’s narration of the film meditates on rainy days and their impact. The rain in this short film doesn’t signify defeat, but offers renewal and “a chance to recollect, a cool out.” —Trisha Lendo
Bernard Nicolas 8 mins
Daydream Therapy is set to Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of “Pirate Jenny” and concludes with Archie Shepp’s “Things Have Got to Change.” Filmed in Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey by activist-turned-filmmaker Bernard Nicolas as his first project at UCLA, this short film poetically envisions the fantasy life of a hotel worker whose daydreams provide an escape from workplace indignities. —Allyson Nadia Field
Zeinabu Davis 18 mins
As a woman anxiously awaits her overdue period, she performs African-based rituals of purification. She cleans house and body, and calls on the spirits (Orishas in the Yoruba tradition), receiving much needed inspiration and assurance in a dream. The film combines beautifully intimate still and moving images of the woman’s body and home space, along with playful stop-motion sequences.
Charles Burnett 12 mins
Director Charles Burnett’s first 16mm student film, Several Friends, showcases his early facility with a documentary approach to fiction, his ability to draw out eccentric and endearing characterizations from an ensemble of nonprofessional actors, and his sensitivity to the expressive possibilities of everyday, working class props and locations. —Doug Cummings