Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

Bush Mama  /  Daydream Therapy

Bush Mama (1975/1979)
October 8, 2011 - 7:30 pm
Bernard Nicolas.

New print!

Directed by Haile Gerima

Inspired after having seen a Black woman in Chicago evicted in winter, director Haile Gerima developed Bush Mama as his UCLA thesis film. Gerima blends narrative fiction, documentary, surrealism and political modernism in his unflinching story about a pregnant welfare recipient in Watts. Featuring the magnetic Barbara O. Jones as Dorothy, Bush Mama is an unrelenting and powerfully moving look at the realities of inner city poverty and systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans.

The film explores the different forces that act on Dorothy in her daily dealings with the welfare office and social workers as she is subjected to the oppressive cacophony of state-sponsored terrorism against the poor. Motivated by the incarceration of her partner T.C. (Johnny Weathers) and the protection of her daughter and unborn child, Dorothy undergoes an ideological transformation from apathy and passivity to empowered action. Ultimately uplifting, the film chronicles Dorothy’s awakening political consciousness and her assumption of her own self-worth.

With Bush Mama, Gerima presents an unflinching critique of the surveillance state and unchecked police power. The film opens with actual footage of the LAPD harassing Gerima and his crew during the shooting. —Allyson Nadia Field

Producer: Haile Gerima. Screenwriter: Haile Gerima. Cinematographer: Charles Burnett, Roderick Young. Editor: Haile Gerima. Cast: Barbara-O (Barbara O. Jones), Johnny Weathers, Susan Williams, Cora Lee Day.

16mm, b/w, 97 min.

New print struck from a 16mm b/w duplicate negative and the original 16mm track negative.

Preceded by:

Daydream Therapy (1977)

Directed by Bernard Nicolas

Daydream Therapy is set to Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of “Pirate Jenny” and concludes with Archie Shepp’s “Things Have Got to Change.” Filmed in Burton Chace Park in Marina del Rey by activist-turned-filmmaker Bernard Nicolas as his first project at UCLA, this short film poetically envisions the fantasy life of a hotel worker whose daydreams provide an escape from workplace indignities. —Allyson Nadia Field

Producer: Bernard Nicolas. Screenwriter: Bernard Nicolas. Cinematographer: Bernard Nicolas. Editor: Bernard Nicolas. Cast: Marva Anderson, Keith Taylor, Gay Abel-Bey, Larry Bell, Jeff Cox.

Digital video, transferred from 16mm, b/w & color, 8 min.