New Cinematic Directions
ATLANTA (February 11, 2021) — The Emory Cinematheque is proud to present our new free virtual film series, “New Cinematic Directions,” which runs Monday, March 1st through Friday, March 19th, 2021. The series is composed of six screenings as a testament to the generations of filmmakers who push the medium forward into uncharted radical new directions. All of the screenings and conversations in New Cinematic Directions are free and open to the public.
Featured in “New Cinematic Directions” are three films held over from the COVID-cancelled March 2020 “Not Coming to a Theater Near You” Series: Pedro Costa’s VITALINA VARELA (2019), Dominga Sotomayor’s TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG (2018), and Khalik Allah’s BLACK MOTHER (2018). Joining the lineup are two new releases, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH (2019) and Ephraim Asili’s THE INHERITANCE (2020).
The centerpiece of the series is a four-film mini-retrospective of the work of Sarah Maldoror, the legendary Angolan filmmaker-activist who became the first woman of African descent, globally, to write and direct a feature film. Four of Maldoror’s short and medium length films — MONANGAMBÉE (1969), A DESSERT FOR CONSTANCE (1980), LÉON G. DAMAS (1994), and EIA POUR CÉSAIRE (2008) — will be screened in this block, in new restorations with newly-translated English subtitles. Maldoror’s daughter, Ms. Annouchka de Andrade, will be joining us for a presentation on the films and her mother’s body of work following the screening. The rest of the screenings in the series will be followed by open Zoom conversations with faculty and students.
“New Cinematic Directions” is made up of these six films — three by pioneers at the cutting edge of contemporary cinema (Sotomayor, Allah, Asili) and three by established masters whose works have been underrepresented in terms of local theatrical screenings (Maldoror, Kurosawa, Costa). Combined, their works explore our shifting definitions of home, of struggle, of facing an uncertain future with the tools provided by a rich cultural heritage. This goes for the lives of the characters and filmmakers, but also for the grand trajectory of film history. At this crossroads of that history, where its future is as uncertain as ever, we must look to the ways radically-minded filmmakers have pushed the medium and its discourses into uncharted and underrepresented territories.
How it works: This virtual series will offer each film for viewing for 2 days before its accompanying Zoom conversation by a panel of Emory faculty.
Audience members will sign up for each screening individually, at the links provided in the films' entries below.
Here, they will provide their email to Emory’s Department of Film and Media. A private link will be sent to each audience member on the first day of its viewing window. “Attendance” is limited so please sign up early. Only the Sarah Maldoror films and program have unlimited capacity.
Details on faculty participants in the Zoom conversations are forthcoming. “New Cinematic Directions” is a student-run series, programmed by fourth-year student Evan Amaral as his honors thesis project. He is supervised by department chair Dr. Matthew H. Bernstein. This series is made possible by the Department of Film and Media and Friends of Film.
Lastly, “New Cinematic Directions” is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Maldoror, who passed away from COVID-19 complications on April 13th, 2020. May she rest in power.
The schedule for the series is as follows:
“Memoirs are personal by definition — only a few, however, manage to speak with such a universal, instantly relatable voice”- Leonardo Goi, The Film Stage
Set in the summer after the fall of dictator Augusto Pinochet, Castillo’s autobiographical debut feature (for which she became the first woman to win the Locarno Film Festival’s Best Director prize) centers on a group of teenagers, whose close-knit relationship among a rural commune begins to face both new freedoms and the stark challenges of adulthood. A KimStim release.
“To the Ends of the Earth emerges as [Kurosawa’s] most gracefully assured work in a while, though his natural gift for building tension is still made subtly manifest”- Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times
Japanese travel TV host Yoko (played by former J-pop star Atsuko Maeda) makes a journey to the nation of Uzbekistan to film the latest episode of her series. Slowly but surely, she and her crew’s inability to navigate the culture and customs of Uzbekistan punctures her happy-go-lucky onscreen persona, revealing her deepest fears and desires in all their complexities. An intensely moving character study combined with a sharply funny travelogue, To the Ends of the Earth is a rich study of a young woman’s inner life. A KimStim release.
“Spectacular images, ideas, emotions, and performances are embedded in the lugubrious pace and tone of Pedro Costa’s modernist fusion of classic melodrama and documentary”- Richard Brody, The New Yorker
In many ways a culmination of Costa’s radically collaborative project thus far, the film takes its title from its lead actress / co-writer, playing herself alongside Costa regular Ventura in two of contemporary cinema’s most riveting performances. Gorgeously shot on consumer-grade digital by Leonardo Simões, the film follows Varela as she arrives in Portugal from her homeland of Cape Verde, only to find that her husband has passed away. A Grasshopper Film release.
“Maldoror’s practice of counterhistory and counterimaging was threefold: pointing to the already central role of women, upholding figures of Black culture who received insufficient recognition, and pushing back against institutionalized narratives that singularized struggle, to make it clear that historical change will always be made by those who are likely to remain anonymous”- Yasmina Price, The New Inquiry
MONANGAMBÉE (Algeria, 1969, 20 minutes): Maldoror’s directorial debut, Monangambée, is based on a story by Angolan author José Luandino Vieira, and was a co-production with recently then-liberated Algeria. The film follows the trials of an Angolan liberation fighter who becomes a political prisoner of the Portuguese colonial government, where he is subjected to torture as his wife attempts to reach him.
A DESSERT FOR CONSTANCE (France, 1980, 52 minutes): One of Maldoror’s films produced for French television, this lighthearted satire explores the realities faced by African immigrants in France. Two African street cleaners chance upon a French cookbook on the job, and, with the help of their friends, decide to put their newfound culinary skills to work when one of their comrades falls ill and needs to raise money to return home.
LÉON G. DAMAS (Guyana, 1994, 23 minutes): One of Maldoror’s many films centering on the Négritude movement and its practitioners, this short television documentary focuses on Léon Damas, the titular Guyanese poet. Maldoror and Senegalese poet-theorist Léopold Senghor reflect on Damas’ life, their friendships with him and with each other, and the work they all performed in order to push the Négritude movement forward.
EIA POUR CÉSAIRE (France/Martinique, 2008, 52 minutes): Shortly after his death in 2008, Maldoror made this film about her longtime friend and collaborator, the Négritude poet Aimé Césaire. In this film, she retraces the steps of Césaire’s travels across the globe — particularly back to his hometown in Martinique, where Maldoror interviews his relatives about his life — and her working relationship with Césaire, including fragments of her previous films about him, Un homme, une terre (1976) and Le masque des mots (1987).
“[Allah] avoids the literal and the linear to create a beguilingly immersive, multifaceted, vividly sensorial portrait of his mother’s homeland, Jamaica”- Jessica Kiang, Variety
Through his early shorts and 2015 debut Field Niggas, along with his 2017 book of photography Souls Against the Concrete, Khalik Allah has emerged as one of the most essential voices in documentary over the past decade. Moving from New York City to Jamaica in Black Mother, his second feature-length film, Allah crafts an impossibly evocative, thrillingly experimental portrait of home and of a nation. A Grasshopper Film release.
“A playful, erudite, and boundary-blurring examination of what performing Black theory, literature, music, and testimony in a contemporary Philadelphia commune might set in motion”- James Lattimer, Cinema Scope
Based on Asili’s own experiences living in a commune of Black radical thinkers, artists, and activists, his debut feature follows a similar group as they settle into their new home in Philadelphia, PA. Asili’s ensemble lived and filmed the scripted drama together, while he weaves a documentary reflection on the city’s notorious 1985 police bombing of the liberation group MOVE into the proceedings. A bold, conceptually daring exercise in hybrid filmmaking — also featuring appearances by poet Sonia Sanchez and surviving members of MOVE — The Inheritance is an essential American film about the archive of struggle left behind by past generations.