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L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema

September 6, 2012 - October 30, 2012


"A priceless cinematic time capsule."—LA Weekly

Beginning in the late 1960s, a number of promising African and African American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television, recruited under a concerted initiative to be more responsive to various communities of color. From that first class through the late 1980s these filmmakers were the first to forge a sustained alternative black cinema practice in the United States. They created fascinating, provocative, and visionary films that have earned an impressive array of awards and accolades at festivals around the world, and have blazed new paths into the commercial market.

Occasionally called the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers or, more frequently, L.A. Rebellion, the group’s significance is too far-reaching to be fairly contained by any one name. In this tour, we proudly present thirty-five representative works that range from well-known films securely in the canon to others seldom seen since school days. Many films are presented in new prints and restorations undertaken by UCLA Film and Television Archive.

For more information about the films and filmmakers in L.A. Rebellion, visit the UCLA Film & Television Archive website.

Thursday, September 6, 2012
7:00 p.m. Daughters of the Dust
Julie Dash (U.S., 1991) New Print! In 1902, among the Gullah community (descendants of African captives who escaped the slave trade to live on islands off of South Carolina and Georgia), a family debates whether to move to the mainland. The first American feature directed by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release. Preceded by Dash’s Diary of an African Nun. (127 mins)

Thursday, September 13, 2012
7:00 p.m. Bush Mama
Haile Gerima (U.S., 1975) New Print! Introduced by Cornelius Moore. Haile Gerima's first feature "takes chances and projects an urgent sense of personal necessity . . . a raw, fragmented study of a Watts welfare mother's political awakening" (Village Voice). Preceded by Bernard Nicolas’ Daydream Therapy. (105 mins)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
7:00 p.m. As Above, So Below and Short Films
Larry Clark (U.S., 1973) New Print! Introduced by Leigh Raiford. A rediscovered masterpiece, director Larry Clark’s portrayal of black insurgency imagines a post-Watts rebellion state of siege and an organized black underground plotting revolution. Preceded by three visionary films, Ben Caldwell’s Medea and I & I: An African Allegory, and Don Amis’ Ujamii Uhuru Schule Community Freedom School. (100 mins)

Thursday, September 20, 2012
7:00 p.m. Emma Mae
Jamaa Fanaka (U.S., 1976) New Print! Emma Mae is a sympathetic portrait of a young black woman from the South and her difficult adjustment to life in the big city. Preceded by Fanaka’s A Day in the Life of Willie Faust, or Death on the Installment Plan. (120 mins)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
7:00 p.m. Your Children Come Back to You and Short Films
Alile Sharon Larkin (U.S., 1979) New Print! Larkin’s film, about a single mother eking out a living from welfare check to welfare check, masterfully presents a child’s perspective on wealth and social inequality. With other shorts that explore family relationships: Rich (S. Torriano Berry), Shipley Street (Jacqueline Frazier), and Fragrance (Gay Abel-Bey). (115 mins)

Thursday, September 27, 2012
7:00 p.m. My Brother’s Wedding
Charles Burnett (U.S., 1983/2007) Director’s Cut! A tragicomic portrait of a young man’s complex relationship with his family and his Watts community. “A treasure that demands to be unearthed in all its funny-sad tenderness” (Village Voice). Preceded by Robert Wheaton’s A Little off Mark. (91 mins)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
7:00 p.m. A Different Image and Short Films
Alile Sharon Larkin (U.S., 1982) New Print! Introduced by Leigh Raiford. An African American woman living away from her family in Los Angeles yearns to be recognized for more than her physical attributes. With short films exploring personal and social change: Cycles (Zeinabu irene Davis), Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification (Barbara McCullough), and Grey Area (Monona Wali). (112 mins)

Thursday, October 11, 2012
7:00 p.m. Bless Their Little Hearts
Billy Woodberry (U.S., 1984) New Restoration Print! Set in Watts, this bluesy, heartfelt collaboration between director Woodberry and writer/cinematographer Charles Burnett focuses on a black family in crisis. “Its poetry lies in the exaltation of ordinary detail” (Village Voice). Preceded by Woodberry’s The Pocketbook. (97 mins)

Thursday, October 18, 2012
7:00 p.m. Passing Through
Larry Clark (U.S., 1977) New Preservation Print! An African American jazz musician, just out of jail, searches for his mentor and grandfather. Clark's film theorizes that jazz is one of the purest expressions of African American culture. With Charles Burnett’s When It Rains. (124 mins)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
7:00 p.m. Compensation
Zeinabu irene Davis (U.S., 1999). Zeinabu irene Davis in person. Compensation depicts two Chicago love stories, one set at the dawn of the twentieth century and the other in contemporary times, featuring a deaf woman and a hearing man. Incorporates sign language and title cards, making it accessible to both deaf and hearing audiences. Preceded by Iverson White’s Dark Exodus. (118 mins)

Sunday, October 28, 2012
7:00 p.m. Black Arts, Black Artists: Short Films
(U.S., 1971–88). This compilation of shorts celebrates black culture: Four Women (Julie Dash), Black Art, Black Artists (Elyseo J. Taylor), Define (O. Funmilayo Makarah), Bellydancing—A History & An Art (Alicia Dhanifu), and Festival of Mask (Don Amis). (75 mins)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012
7:00 p.m. Child of Resistance and Short Films
Haile Gerima (U.S., 1972). Inspired by a dream director Haile Gerima had after seeing Angela Davis handcuffed on television, Child of Resistance follows a woman (Barbara O. Jones) who has been imprisoned as a result of her fight for social justice. With shorts Brick by Brick (Shirikiana Aina), L.A. in My Mind (O. Funmilayo Makarah), Rain (Melvonna Ballenger), and the collaborative piece Dawn at My Back: Memoir of a Black Texas Upbringing (excerpt). (83 mins)

L.A. Rebellion is presented in association with the UCLA Film & Television Archive and supported in part by grants from the Getty Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The series is curated by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley, and Jacqueline Stewart, and coordinated at BAM/PFA by Kathy Geritz. All prints and tapes are provided by UCLA Film & Television Archive, unless indicated otherwise. Introduction and film notes are adapted from the series catalog, available at the screenings.