Curators: Amir George and Erin Christovale
Black Radical Imagination is a collection of short films that converge on the idea of subversive and alternative visions of a postmodern society, within the African diaspora. The Collection is curated by Amir George and Erin Christovale and was showcased at the 14th Annual Regent Park Film Festival. The films are creatively unique and aim to create conversations about black futurism, surrealism, and the black culture as a whole. The Collection features five films (ranging from 2-28 minutes in length): “Water Steps” (Los Pasos Del Agua), “The Golden Chain”, “All That Is Left Unsaid”, “Florida Water”, and “Vows of silence”.
Water steps (Director: César Augusto Acevedo) is a 13 minute film that tells the story of two fishermen who come across a dead body and grapple with how to handle the situation. They finally decide to give the person a dignified burial and proceed to drag the body through the forest. The film captures the journey and what occurs in the aftermath of this decision. “Water Steps” is an award winning film that is the work of César Augusto Acevedo. The film stirs deep reflection into our own ideas of what is morally right or wrong. The visuals are stunning and coupled with dramatic music and beautiful sounds of nature, with lingering pauses and silence in between.
The Golden Chain (Directors: Adebukola Bodunrin & Ezra Claytan Daniels) is a 13 minute film that is set in a futuristic world inside a Nigerian space station, which orbits an artificial area of matter that, by nature, cannot exist in our solar system. It is an animated work of science fiction about the birth of our planet as seen through the eyes of Eko, who is the only crew member aboard the space station. The imagery is beautiful, colorful, and filled with symbolism. It is one of the more interesting short films I’ve seen in a while due to the subject matter, how it is presented, and the person whose the star of the film. It is not very often that we see futuristic, let alone sci-fi, works of art being told from the point of view of a member of the black diaspora. “The Golden Chain” is refreshing and highly recommend to anyone who would like to see new and alternative works in this genre.
All that is Left Unsaid features Audre Lorde, a feminist, activist, and pioneer. She is seen giving a poetry reading about the illness suffered by a mother and daughter and the effects of cancer on them. The ideas of love, loss, and grief are explored. The loss of black daughters, mothers, sisters, friends, and other women in our lives can be emotionally crippling and the film explores this. It is moving and anyone who has experienced this kind of loss can relate.
Florida Water (Director: Numa Perrier) runs for 6 minutes and is based on a picture that director, Numa Perrier, received from her mother, who she only met once. The picture shows a group of women all dressed in beautiful red dresses and off to the side is a little girl. The photograph is recreated in the film, where we see the women conducting some kind of a ceremony/ritual with candles. The first 2 minutes of the film is silent, except for the sounds of a striking match and clinking glasses of champagne. The facial expressions, actions, and gestures are all left up to interpretation. Following this, the women travel through the streets of Haiti, from the broken down city to a beautiful area with trees, flowers, and houses. The journey and the destination are shown. The film is poetry in and of itself, and the viewer is challenged to add meaning to the scenes before them. This experimental film is simply beautiful.
Vows of Silence (Director: Be Steadwell) runs for 28 minutes and tells the story of a composer who is heartbroken following the end of her relationship. She vows to remain silent in an effort to win back the heart of her ex-flame. However, she is in for a rude awakening when she finds love elsewhere and in the process regains her voice. This film is a queer/lesbian love story. It’s beautiful, touching, and “wavy”. The music in the film is tranquil and smooth and adds to the drama; love and loss and reclamation is central to the film.
The collection of films are beautiful works of art that come together to form an interconnecting web of stories, like patch work on a quilt. The different identities, stories, and themes explored make this piece a masterful work of art that is highly recommended for those who want to view films that invoke thought, reflection, spirituality, wonder, and serenity. Each story is unique and beautiful, the sights and sounds and imagery leave a lasting impression on the mind.