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Illusions  /  Fragrance  /  As Above, So Below  /  Rain (Nyesha)

As Above, So Below (1973)
November 12, 2011 - 7:30 pm
Gay Abel-Bey, Larry Clark, Julie Dash.

Illusions  (1982)

Set in Hollywood during WWII, Illusions tells the story of Mignon Duprée, a studio executive passing for white, and Ester Jeeter, an African American singer hired to dub the voice of a white movie star.  The film is a gripping critique of the power of the movies to shape perception as it explores the multiple illusions created by Hollywood and the very illusion of racial identity.  —Allyson Nadia Field

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Julie Dash.  Cinematographer: Ahmed El Maanouni.  Editor: Julie Dash, Charles Burnett.  Cast: Lonette McKee, Rosanne Katon, Ned Bellamy, Jack Radar, Fernando Lundi Faust.

16mm, b/w, 36 min.

Fragrance  (1991)

When George visits his family before heading off to the Vietnam War, he is confronted by the conflicting ideals of his veteran father, who encourages his patriotism, and his militant brother, who urges him to stay home in protest.  The complex issue of whether African Americans should be fighting for justice at home or abroad is registered most poignantly in the youngest son Bobby, a schoolboy torn between the political allegiances of his father and older brothers.  —Allyson Nadia Field

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Gay Abel-Bey.  Cinematographer: Steven S. Poitras.  Editor: G. Abel-Bey, S. Torriano Berry.  Cast: Fumilayo, Leslie Rainey, Roy Fegan, Raymond Dunmore, Tony Ginn.

Digital video, transferred from ¾” videotape, b/w, 38 min.

As Above, So Below  (1973)

New print!

A rediscovered masterpiece, director Larry Clark’s As Above, So Below comprises a powerful political and social critique in its portrayal of Black insurgency.  The film opens in 1945 with a young boy playing in his Chicago neighborhood and then follows the adult Jita-Hadi as a returning Marine with heightened political consciousness.  Like The Spook Who Sat By the Door and Gordon’s War, As Above, So Below imagines a post-Watts rebellion state of siege and an organized Black underground plotting revolution.  As Above, So Below is one of the more politically radical films of the L.A. Rebellion.  —Allyson Nadia Field

Producer/Director/Screenwriter/Cinematographer/Editor: Larry Clark.  Cast: Nathaniel Taylor, Lyvonne Walder, Billy Middleton, Gail Peters, Kodjo.

16mm, color, 52 min.

New print struck from a new 16mm internegative off the original 16mm color reversal A/B rolls, and a new 16mm track negative off the original 16mm magnetic soundtrack mix.

Rain  (Nyesha)  (1978)

Directed by Melvonna Ballenger

Director Melvonna Ballenger’s Rain (Nyesha) shows how awareness can lead to a more fulfilling life. In the film, a female typist goes from apathetic to empowered through the help of a man giving out political fliers on the street. Using John Coltrane’s song “After the Rain,” Ballenger’s narration of the film meditates on rainy days and their impact. The rain in this short film doesn’t signify defeat, but offers renewal and “a chance to recollect, a cool out.” —Trisha Lendo

Producer/Screenwriter: M. Ballenger. Cast: Evlynne Braithwaite, Bernard Nicolas, Ijeoma Iloputaife, Michael Friend, Keith Williams.

Digital video, transferred from ¾” videotape, b/w, 16 min.