Superbly assembled from the original footage, news stories and present-day interviews. Some songs are allowed to stand on their own, some are used as montage fodder, or backdrops for related stories. Mainly I appreciate a music doc that never lets the music stop playing.
Stevie Wonder gets drum and piano solos. David Ruffin has a very high voice and long legs on “My Girl.” Nina Simone and Sly Stone in top form. I wasn’t expecting the gospel section to be so strong – Mavis Staples and Mahalia Jackson walked off with the movie.
Abby Sun in Filmmaker:
Politically, the films’ interviews and archival footage holds no bars. The Reverend Jesse Jackson’s sermons are woven throughout … The film is explicitly pro-Black Panthers, pro-Young Lords, pro-interracial and transnational solidarity movements. It is conscious, as its organizers were, of the complex mapping of the formation of Black identity — in style and hair, musical expression and commercial ownership, political position, Afro-Caribbean modalities — and against mainstream media narratives, while putting forward a multi-sensorial view of a festival space, integrating attendees’ memories of the smell and taste of being present.
Finally coming full circle, we watched a streaming documentary about people starting a site to stream documentaries. The team’s founder is a film nut whose dad was the local grocer, but it’s not a town of film nuts and their group isn’t doing much outreach, so instead of a doc-crazy Columbia MO situation, it just seems like some outsider weirdos in a town that has no need for them. Sturdy, observational doc by Simon, who makes pretty nice movies but I’ve missed why she’s considered a master of the art. Anyway, nobody was ever hanging out on the online chat channels T/F set up for Teleported attendees, so I had to look to twitter for a sense of film-viewing community.
Beautiful, sedate b/w photography.
A kid wants to get out of the country, makes some money on the khat harvest.
Not a tight story, more of a roaming poetic work, most of which I have completely forgotten, as have the letterboxd commenters who left even shorter write-ups than this one. I sure loved it at the time, tho.
Therapy and training sessions – no context, all different kinds of approaches, but consistent fixed-frame camera style and clean look to all the rooms. The people who touch sleeping pigs are a nice tie-in to Gunda.
“It is left up to the spectator to decide whether these mindfulness training programs and coaching courses symbolize something bigger.” This feels like one of those noncommercial docs that T/F found in a museum or academic project, like The Task or Segunda Vez.
More focused than Rat Film, more sense of purpose, and great resonance with the Philip Henry Gosse short we watched before it. The eye and cameras, and what they cannot see: blind spots and the seer itself. Desktop film with online videos from Axon (the taser company)… community meeting where an eye-in-the-sky company president tried convincing Baltimore citizens of his project’s value while they had their own ideas about surveillance. Also a film history lesson, touching on Jules Janssen’s pre-Muybridge astronomical motion pictures using his photographic revolver.
Our first-ever T/F guest viewer agreed with Katy that the movie was sad and hard to watch. Seals, dolphins and swans, rescued and released by British + Irish orgs. Some delightful seal/swan antics, less-direct wounded animal shots than Bird Island. Per Paste, “a story of slow, tiring disaster.”
One-legged woman sings songs with a few repeated lines about loss and injustice.
Some nice river and boat photography, some news footage,
one dream scene where chickens are dropped over lotto cards.
A Thousand Suns (2013, Mati Diop)
Starts with very few indications that it’s not a purely observational doc following the lead actor of Touki Bouki making his way to an anniversary screening, but by the end we’re in a new realm with nude women in the Alaskan snow. Nice use of Tex Ritter’s “High Noon”
Diop in Cinema Scope:
The sole element of reality that I kept in my film is that Magaye Niang stayed in Dakar and Myriam Niang left for Alaska. From there I took fictional liberties, but the phone conversation that is heard in the film remains quite faithful to the real conversation that I recorded between the two actors. Nothing is true and nothing is false in my film.
Metaphor or Sadness Inside Out (2014, Catarina Vasconcelos)
The metaphor is an elephant. Bookending square-frame film segments with HD in the middle, circling around memories of a mother who died when her kids were teens. More focus on family, photos and letters – a proto-Metamorphosis of Birds that stands well on its own, and an example of how to use home movies and photographs in poetic ways.
A So-Called Archive (2020, Igwe Onyeka)
Upbeat promo soundtrack introduces a museum while the camera shows its pigeon-infested remains, tracing cobwebs, tattered filmstrips and lines of decay. Filmed inside two shuttered colonial archives in UK and Nigeria, this was already a fascinating little movie and the online description only improves it.
Fishing community, focused on blonde girl Lucimara who catches crabs on the rocks, and smiling poet Ismail. Indigenous community riverside rain forest movie, reminded Katy of A River Below, while kids left to their own devices wiith dangerous tools gave me a La Cienaga feeling. Flash forward at the end, Luci in the city, and the first time I thought the movie had really shown us something, Luci older and more mature after we’d been getting to know her at age 11.