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L.A. Rebellion Redux

The Diary of an African Nun (1977)
March 22, 2013 - 7:30 pm
Monona Wali.

L. A. Rebellion has become the most common term used to describe a group of Los Angeles-based African and African American film artists recognized largely for their work produced between the 1960s and 1980s, when most of them met as students in UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.  The term denotes an evolving group of many admirable facets.  Among these were the diversity of its creative expressions, and the importance of women’s voices within the group.  That same diversity, even among the women of the “L.A. Rebellion themselves” is underscored by this program of new restorations, two of which are premieres not included in the Archive’s 2011 program “L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema.”   In their variety, however, all three films have in common not only an African-American woman’s perspective, but also a focus on the process of coming to consciousness.

Jan-Christopher Horak

New print funded by the Ronald T. Shedlo Preservation Fund

The Snake in My Bed (1995)

Directed by Omah Diegu

In Nigeria a boy’s identity originates in the village of the father. If he is an orphan, he literally has no identity. Directed in Nigeria and Germany with funding from the German Kuratorium of Young Cinema and Germany’s ZDF by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television graduate Omah Diegu, this personal documentary relates the story of a middle class Nigerian woman who marries a German expatriate in Lagos and has his child, only to learn that he has a wife and child back in Germany. She goes to Germany to get justice for his bigamy and give her son an identity, since both Germany and Nigeria have reciprocal marriage laws. There she finds that the German bureaucrats she faces only work to protect the philandering white man. This beautiful, poetic documentary celebrates maternal love, even as it exposes German racism.

Producer: Ijeoma Iloputaife. Screenwriter: Omah Diegu. Cinematographer: Berthold Schweiz, Petra Buda, Omah Diegu. Editor: Omah Diegu.

16mm, color, 90 min.

Printed from the original 16mm A/B roll color negative and a new 16mm track negative. Laboratory services by Fotokem.

Preceded by

Preservation funded by the National Film Preservation Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Getty Foundation

The Diary of an African Nun (1977)

Directed by Julie Dash

A nun in Uganda weighs the emptiness she finds in her supposed union with Christ. Adapted from a short story by Alice Walker, the film was a bold first move by its director toward narrative filmmaking. Its graphic simplicity and pantomimed performance by Barbara O. Jones give it an intensity that anticipates Julie Dash’s work on Daughters of the Dust.

Producer: Julie Dash. Based on the short story by: Alice Walker. Cinematographer: Orin Mitchell. Editor: Julie Dash. With: Barbara O. Jones, Barbara Young, Makimi Price, Ron Flagge, Renee Carraway.

16mm, b/w, 15 min.

Restored from the 16mm A/B roll b/w duplicate negative (blown up from Super 8 reversal camera original) and the 16mm original track negative. Laboratory services by NT Picture and Sound, Audio Mechanics, and Fotokem. Special thanks to Vivalce, Shawn Jones.

New print funded by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Getty Foundation

Grey Area (1982)

Directed by Monona Wali

The title of Monona Wali’s UCLA thesis film, Grey Area, refers to the spaces of compromise that seemingly have to be made to survive in white society. The film revolves around an African-American woman reporter for a local television station who must seemingly compromise her political principles to keep her job, just as a former Black Panther Party member gets out of prison, only to realize that the old comrades in the struggle have moved on with their lives. It is also a plea for community development in Watts and other black L.A. neighborhoods, a concern that connects many of the L.A. Rebellion projects.

Screenwiters: Monona Wali, Thomas G. Musca. Cinematographer: Amy C. Halpern. Editor: Monona Wali. With: Eve Holloway, Haskell V. Anderson, Lance Nichols, Sy Richardson.

16mm, b/w, 38 min. 

Printed in collaboration with the New York Public Library from the original 16mm A/B roll b/w negative and the original 16mm track negative. Laboratory services by Fotokem.