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Jan12
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Theatre & Performing Arts

Tribute Paid To Womanist Mentors And Other Artists I


In 1976, an extraordinary group of Black feminist artists and activists organized the first ever Black women’s film festival: the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts. Films by Michelle Parkerson, Ayoka Chenzira, Edie Lynch, and Madeline Anderson, among others, were screened. The festival was simultaneously a celebration of the emerging world of Black women’s filmmaking as well as a radical call for the kinds of socio-political and institutional changes necessary for a Black women’s film culture to thrive. Four decades later, the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts, 2023 commemorates the 1976 festival with a nine-week screening series, held in conjunction with Professor Allyson Nadia Field’s winter 2023 course “Creating a Different Image: Black Women’s Filmmaking of the 1970s-90s,” and a two-day symposium about the original festival and the tradition of Black feminist filmmaking. For more information, visit voices.uchicago.edu/sojourner

“As Zeinabu Davis often points out, a characteristic of African-American women filmmakers is tribute paid to womanish mentors and other women artists.” So wrote Toni Cade Bambara in the early 1990s. Two weeks of programs take inspiration from Bambara’s and Davis’s shared assessment of womanist cinema as built around networks of care and in robust dialogue with the multiple forms of artmaking. Kathe Sandler’s Remembering Thelma (1981) offers an engaging profile of dancer Thelma Hill, featuring footage of Hill with the New York Negro Ballet and Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. Creating a Different Image: Portrait of Alile Sharon Larkin (1989), by O.Funmilayo Makarah, is an intimate portrait of Larkin, whose 1982 film A Different Image was an inspiration for many aspiring Black women filmmakers. Julie Dash’s Four Women (1975) features dancer Linda Martina Young as she embodies the enduring Black women archetypes of Nina Simone’s haunting ballad. We then end this program with Dash as cinematic subject in Yvonne Welbon’s The Cinematic Jazz of Julie Dash (1992). (16mm and digital video, 110 min.)

Remembering Thelma courtesy of Women Make Movies. Creating a Different Image: Portrait of Alile Sharon Larkin and Four Women courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

Presented by the Film Studies Center, Sisters in Cinema, and South Side Projections.


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