Film

The 'Grim Sleeper' and Expendable Black Women

 The 'Grim Sleeper' and Expendable Black Women

“The police don’t care because these are Black women.” 

Thirty minutes into documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s latest film, Tales of the Grim Sleeper,we hear these words uttered by Pam, one of the film’s most compelling figures, as she and Bloomfield are driving down the streets of South Central Los Angeles. The documentary follows the case of a South Central serial killer dubbed the Grim Sleeper by the media due to the belief that the killer waited 14 years between murders. Pam is a former sex worker who had multiple dealings with Lonnie Franklin Jr, the man arrested and charged with 10 counts of murder, and one charge of attempted murder. Franklin is believed to be the Grim Sleeper and responsible for the murders of over 100 women and girls (victims’ ages ranged between 14 and 36) in South Central between 1985 and 2010. In the scene preceding Pam’s comment, Broomfield is conversing with Margaret Prescod, founder of the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders and Laverne Peters, the mother of one of the victims, Janecia Peters. The Coalition has been advocating for justice on behalf of the victims since the 1980s. Earlier in the film when we’re first introduced to her, we see footage showing a younger Prescod handing out leaflets outside of a grocery store as she talks to patrons about the murders of young women that, at the time, have been happening for three years

Carefree Black Girls, Interrupted

Carefree Black Girls, Interrupted

In April, a beautiful teaser of the movie Girlhood was released showing, in one long track, the promise of the great carefree black girl film that could have been. It first lingered on the face of what we presumed was the main character, Marieme (played by Karidja Touré) and then unveiled a line of girls who we cannot hear but who we see lively interacting with each other, Para One's electro soundtrack in the background. The colorful teaser did its job: it made me curious about a film I was skeptical about after having read its synopsis almost a year ago. Then there was the Cannes Festival where the film was shown to critical acclaim. There were murmurs about an unconventional all black, feminist film and a lot of noise about a certain scene involving four black girls dancing and singing to Rihanna’s Diamonds. 

Filling the gaps with "Strolling": an interview with Cecile Emeke

Filling the gaps with "Strolling": an interview with Cecile Emeke

In an interview for Film Comment, French director Axelle Ropert said that as a director she made films that she felt were missing as a spectator- that she was filling gaps. Though Ropert wasn't talking about racial representation (or the lack thereof), it is the same impulse that prompted UK-based visual artist Cecile Emeke to create Strolling, a series of short documentaries in which the director herself goes on a walk with beautiful black Londoners to talk about various issues ranging from free tampons to European colonization. She took some of her time to answer our questions about this brilliant series and her upcoming short "Ackee & Saltfish." — interviewed by Fanta

The Future Weird: an interview with Derica Shields

The Future Weird: an interview with Derica Shields

BLACK GIRLS TALKING: Remote Control is the fifth installment of THE FUTURE WEIRD after Non-Resident Aliens, Supra-Planetary Sovereigns and Visions of Excess. Can you talk about this project and what the inspiration was behind it?

DERICA SHIELDS: The Future Weird was born in July 2013 and there have been five programs: Visions of Excess; In Search of a Black Atlantis; Supra-planetary Sovereigns collaboration with Spectacle Theater); Remote Control; and Non-Resident Aliens.

The Future Weird emerged from a number of desires. I’d been wanting to do a screening series for a really long time. There were so many films by black and brown directors which I’d heard about but couldn’t find anywhere, or which I had seen and thought were interesting but they had not secured distribution. So one aim was just to screen these films because they weren’t readily available online or in theatres.

When I thinking about the screenings, I was keen to get away from a tendency I’d noticed to treat African film as though it’s a genre. I’m increasingly compelled by the move to theorise from the global south, rather than the north/West and wanted to have a space where we could privilege the conversations among black and brown people, without the constant reference to whiteness that emerges as a norm in white dominated spaces. So the screenings are organised thematically, and in that way, they tend to follow certain trains of thought or circle around ideas. “In Search of a Black Atlantis” came out of thinking I’d been doing while at grad school and before, since I’ve long been obsessed with water as a site of black cultural memory, loss, forgetting and rebirth. The films look at water as a cleansing force, what returns to us in the water as detritus, and as a site of myth too - black mermaids, mami water, drexciya/atlantis.

Another reason was that I’d moved to New York and it was lonely. I wanted to find people I could talk with about the things I was thinking about. In some part I also wanted to watch these films with other people rather than have this atomized YouTube viewing experience.