A quickie FYI I received for those of you in the area, hapenning today, May 1, at 7pm at the CalArts’ Bijou Theater, as part of a film series called Structuring Strategies.
For 40 years, the Ethiopian-born filmmaker Haile Gerima has been dedicated to independent cinema, making films that focus on African or African-American narratives. [On] May 1, he screens his 1975 film Bush Mama, part of CalArts’ Structuring Strategies film series.
While a graduate student at UCLA in the early 1970s, Gerima joined the L.A. Rebellion film movement (also referred to as Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers). Set against a socially charged atmosphere precipitated by the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and the Watts Riots, Gerima and his fellow students—Julie Dash, Larry Clark, and future CalArts faculty Billy Woodberry and Charles Burnett, among them—made films that were antithetical to classic and mainstream Hollywood productions.
While “blaxploitation” films like Shaft (1971) were financed by Hollywood studios, Gerima’s films were not. He developed Bush Mama as his UCLA film thesis on a small budget (with Burnett serving as cinematographer), after witnessing the winter eviction of a black woman in Chicago.
Transporting the story to Los Angeles’s Watts neighborhood, Gerima reimagines the story, blurring narrative fiction, documentary, surrealism and political modernism in the story that focuses on a pregnant welfare recipient, inner city poverty and systemic disenfranchisement of African Americans.
Structuring Strategies: Haile Gerima presents Bush Mama
CalArts’ Bijou Theater
Tuesday, May 1, 7 pm