Happy Labor Day Weekend!
Between screening Black and Cuba and working on my new multi-platform project 9 GRAMS, I’ve spent some time this summer thinking about the Black woman’s image. Of course in one way or another I’ve been thinking about it my entire life by looking in the mirror and beholding the relentless glamour of my mother and grandmother while I was growing up. In creating films that center Black women’s perspectives and – frankly- a lifetime of struggling to valorize my own, I’ve come to realize the most empowering and aesthetically beautiful representations of Black women are the ones we create ourselves.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on September 1, 2016
Photo courtesy of the U People Facebook Page
U People, released in 2009, is a documentary directed by Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah. This riveting film features the testimony of everyday people expressing their unfiltered feelings about what it means to be Gay, straight or an ally within the African American community. These discussions were filmed unexpectedly on the set of Hanifah Walidah’s Make a Move music video. Shot in a Brooklyn brownstone over two days, the documentary involves over thirty people from all walks of life, including many members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community. U People was well-received in the community and has been featured several times on MTV’s Logo channel. In 2010, it was nominated for the Outstanding Documentary media award at the 21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.
The film is described as a “LGBT Rockumentary” and begins with a disclaimer: “When you view this film do not make assumptions about anyone’s sexuality.” This reflects the film’s mission to promote and encourage the development of a space for empowered self-identification. U People is a one-of-kind display of magical individuality and everyday uniqueness. The “U People” experience is about self-expression and sexuality on one’s own terms; social norms and conventions are abandoned in favor of self-love and personal conviction.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on June 22, 2013
Cook County Hospital house staff officers on strike in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.
Jack Pizzy is a British filmmaker who began his career as a television anchor and reporter. His documentary I Call It Murder was first aired on the BBC television program Man Alive in 1979. The film depicts Cook County Hospital in Chicago before it closed in 1975 due to a lack of funding. Because the hospital was public, many of Chicago’s poor communities relied on its services. The documentary focuses on violence as being a major problem in Cook County; most of the patients suffered from severe gun and knife wounds. Pizzy even remarks of Cook County saying,
The most common fatal complication of pregnancy is gunshot wounds.
The documentary also shows that many of the fatally injured patients at Cook County Hospital were initially turned away by other hospitals because of poverty and racism — since many of the patients lacked medical insurance and were Black or Latino. Perhaps more depressing is that nearly forty years later, the interplay of poverty, racism, violence and access to healthcare still exists.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on April 25, 2013
The compelling documentary How to Survive a Plague, directed by David France, explores how activism helped alter public opinion and empower people diagnosed with HIV during the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Using archival footage of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP ) and the Treatment Action Group (TAG), David France excellently captures the stirring losses, achievements and solemn victories of the movement while reflecting on a journey in which too many lives were lost to the disease. The film is a testament to the power of people organizing and emphasizes that organizing – coupled with knowledge – has the ability to create meaningful change. How to Survive a Plague is an inspiring and important film as it gives ordinary people who have an interest in a cause but fearful or uninformed the courage to organize. Successful organizing doesn’t necessarily require an extensive knowledge base but rather change is determined by people with a passion for revolution.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on April 6, 2013
Thank you for all of your encouragement and enthusiasm about Black and Cuba. At work-in-progress screenings in San Juan, East Harlem and Greenwich Village, for audiences from all walks of life, we’ve heard tremendous support for the project and a strong desire to learn more about the AfroCuban experience and how we can overcome racism and class.
We are hard at work incorporating your input into our next draft of the film so that Black and Cuba can be a long-lasting tool for educators, students, activists and allies working to address the consequences of racial and economic injustice. In addition to conducting research and editing, we are raising money for the project so we can provide you with a film that is beautiful, inspiring and informative.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on February 23, 2013
Now! is a short film directed in 1965 by Cuban filmmaker Santiago Alvarez and produced by Cuba’s state-run filmmaking agency ICAIC (El Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos) that empathetically portrays the African American struggle for civil rights in the United States.
Progressive Pupil learned of this film from the H-Net email list on African American Studies an outlet for informational exchange between professionals, faculty and advanced students in the field of African American Studies.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on February 19, 2013
Black and Cuba cinematographer, Ashley Panzera, is currently in Haiti working on Noise Runs, the forthcoming documentary about a team of young, Haitian journalists who spark social change in the tent camps of Port-au-Prince as they produce a radical Kreyol-language newspaper.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on August 30, 2012
The Yale Black Alumni Association (NYC), Venceremos Brigade, WETPAINT, and Progressive Pupil co-host a work-in-progress screening of the riveting documentary Black and Cuba. There will be a talkback with writer/director Robin J. Hayes and Yale Professor Jafari Allen, author of ¡Venceremos? The Erotics of Black Self-making in Cuba. A reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres – provided by the restaurant Cuba – will follow.
Black and Cuba is an inspiring documentary that follows awkward but street-smart students at Yale who band together and adventure to Cuba to see how revolution lives. In the process, they discover an alternative history of struggle and triumph against all odds. In rarely seen archival film, the documentary features Angela Davis, Fidel Castro, Fred Hampton, Ché Guevara and Assata Shakur, among others.
The screening and reception will be held on May 17th from 7-10:30 PM at New York City’s Cinema Village. Space is limited and advanced reservations are required. RSVP here.
Posted by Progressive Pupil on May 7, 2012