Combahee Experimental: Black Women’s Experimental Filmmaking
Combahee Experimental celebrates the work of Black women filmmakers and their unique cinematic contributions to contemporary visual culture. Co-curated by award-winning multi-media artist, Simone Leigh, and Black feminist theorist of visual culture and contemporary art, Tina Campt, the series extends a collaboration begun with the 2018 Loophole of Retreat conference convened at the Guggenheim Museum as a commitment to using public programming platforms to highlight the creative, artistic, and intellectual labor of Black women.
The series looks back while also looking forward to Black women experimental filmmaking from the late seventies to the present day. Its point of departure is a reexamination of the early work of two female members of the influential LA Rebellion movement and the unique cinematic intervention it initiated. It is an intervention that the UCLA Film and Television Archive characterizes as driven by the group’s commitment to a “utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity.”
Julie Dash, Zeinabu irene Davis, and Barbara McCullough are pioneering artists whose early work created in the context of this movement has until recently been overlooked and undervalued. The series begins on October 7, 2020, with a discussion on ‘Filmmaking in Troubled Times’ with Dash, Davis and McCullough joined in conversation with activist, scholar and writer Angela Davis and the curators. The discussion will be followed by a screening of a selection of early works from the women of the LA Rebellion movement.
This reflection on the work of these early visionary black artists will be followed by two additional dialogues and screenings featuring the work of emerging black women filmmakers from across the diaspora. On October 22, the curators host a conversation between Nuotama Bodomo and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich, followed on October 29 by a conversation with Garrett Bradley and Rungano Nyoni. Each discussion includes a screening showcasing early or more recent films by each artist.
JOIN THE EVENTS
All of the screenings and conversations were free and open to the public. Recordings of the conversations on October 7 and 22, 2021, are available to watch on-demand.
The series conversations will include live closed captions in English. Interested patrons should connect directly to the captioned event through StreamText rather than registering for the Zoom Webinars; click for “Full Details” on the event pages below to get the links to access the captioned events. Reference these instructions for accessing and using StreamText (PDF). If you are in need of other access accommodations in order to participate in these events, please contact the Lewis Center at 609-258-5262 or email LewisCenter@princeton.edu for assistance at least 2 weeks in advance of the event date.
FILM SERIES SPONSORSHIP
The series is presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts and Princeton University’s Department of Art and Archaeology with additional support through the John Sacret Young ’69 Lecture Series fund. Sacret Young is a 1969 graduate of Princeton and an author, producer, director, and screenwriter. He has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and seven Writers Guild of America (WGA) Awards, winning two WGA Awards. He is perhaps best known for co-creating, along with William F. Broyles Jr., China Beach, the critically acclaimed ABC-TV drama series about medics and nurses during the Vietnam War, and for his work on the television drama The West Wing. Young has also received a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award, and his original mini-series about the Gulf War, Thanks of a Grateful Nation, was honored with his fifth Humanitas Prize nomination. He is the author of REMAINS: Non-Viewable, a Los Angeles Times best seller. He has written extensively about American art, which led to his recent memoir, Pieces of Glass – An Artoir, about the effect art has had on his writing, his screen work, and his life.
*Banner image: Still from the film ‘Cycles’ (1989), by Zeinabu irene Davis