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"Uncommon Images" and Other Short Nonfiction

Introduced by Ayanna Dozier

  • Sunday, April 3, 2022
  • 2:00 p.m.
  • West Building Lecture Hall

Uncommon Images: James Van Der Zee

Produced for New York State public television, Evelyn Barron’s short documentary portrait Uncommon Images: James Van Der Zee features an extended interview with the photographer. Van Der Zee discusses his photographic process, experience, and approach to photographing Harlem and its Black residents from the late 1910s through the 1940s. The film features numerous photographs from Van Der Zee’s archive that help animate Harlem’s past. (Evelyn Barron, 1978, 20 minutes)

Here is the Imagination of the Black Radical 

Rhea Storr’s 16mm short Here is the Imagination of the Black Radical takes audiences through Junkanoo, a festival celebrated throughout the Caribbean. Junkanoo emerged in the 17th century, when enslaved people were given a brief reprieve to celebrate the imposed Christian holiday of Christmas. The festivities eventually morphed into a space for remembrance, performance, costume, dance, release, and rebellion. Storr uses archival images and sounds to create a kaleidoscopic view of Black futurity, crafting a compelling argument that images of Black radicalism can be found in practices like Junkanoo. (Rhea Storr, 2020, 10 minutes)

Integration Report 1

Madeline Anderson’s Integration Report 1—coproduced with Richard Leacock—is an unflinching examination of the fight for school integration. Initially planned as a series, the black-and-white short employs handheld camera techniques alongside repurposed television footage and home movies to stitch together a robust narrative. Unlike the films that would later solidify the direct cinema style, Integration Report 1 features a layered soundtrack of sound bites and gospel songs that embeds the film in the Black communities that led the fight for integration. (Madeline Anderson, 1960, 20 minutes)

Passing

Like much of Kym Ragusa’s filmography, Passing is an experimental documentary that excavates her family archive. The film juxtaposes an oral history by Ragusa’s grandmother with still images, documents, and black-and-white footage of train tracks. Ragusa’s grandmother recounts a trip she took in 1959 from New York to Florida with a male companion. Recalling an encounter at one of their stops, the collision of race, gender, class, and color come to the fore, as her companion leverages her lighter skin and gender to navigate and dilute racial hostility directed toward him. (Kym Ragusa, 1995, 9 minutes)

Splash

Thomas Allen Harris’s Splash draws inspiration from critical theory, contemporary art, and personal memory to weave a parable film around Black masculinity. Harris emphasizes performance and play as critical tools to experiment with identity formation and to resist oppressive, fixed definitions of masculinity. (Thomas Allen Harris, 1991, 10 minutes)

Registration is required to attend.