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Shadow and Act

"Sankofa" Revisited (L.A. Rebellion Film Series)

  • By Nijla Mumin
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  • November 21, 2011 6:47 AM
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  • 13 Comments
Sankofa is an Akan word meaning roughly, “We must go back and reclaim our past in order to move forward.” Haile Gerima’s cinematic rendering of this is perhaps one of his greatest filmmaking achievements. Screened this weekend as part of the UCLA L.A. Rebellion Film Series at the Hammer Museum, the film follows Shola, a black model who is transported back to a West Indian plantation after participating in a fashion shoot on shores of the slave castles in Ghana. Shola becomes a house slave alongside Shango, a militant Maroon fieldhand and love interest who resists her early warnings to ignore the brutalities committed against others on the plantation. Sexually abused by the plantation’s owner, Shola is drawn to Nunu, an African-born fieldhand and Maroon leader, who ignites her eventual rebellion.
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"Cutting Horse" And The Need for More Black Westerns

  • By Nijla Mumin
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  • November 15, 2011 7:37 AM
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  • 13 Comments
Black cowboys aren’t often portrayed in American film, even though they played an integral role in the development of the Western frontier. This is one of the reasons I decided to see Larry Clark’s Cutting Horse (2002) on Sunday night, screened as part of the UCLA L.A. Rebellion Film Series at the Hammer Museum. Described as a “revisionist” version of the classic western, it centers on a family of black and Latino cowboys who train horses to instinctively keep certain cows from returning to the herd, also known as “cutting horses.” Their land suddenly faces environmental threats and a foreclosure by neighboring chemical company clan, the Stones. Tyler, played by actual horse trainer Albert Harris, returns to the Livermore Ranch in the midst of an ensuing family war involving a past sexual assault on his former lover Rosa, and a family battle over a horse named Dark Knight. Silent and expressionless throughout most of the film, Tyler works to train the horse, who embodies the family’s sole chance at economic and financial survival.
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"Illusions," "Fragrance," and "Rain": Creating a New Black Cinema at UCLA

  • By Nijla Mumin
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  • November 14, 2011 12:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
In Julie Dash’s film Illusions, Mignon Dupree, played by Lonette Mckee says, “People make films about themselves.” Though she is referring to the exclusionary practices of the Hollywood studio system, her statement also applies to the films screened this weekend as part of UCLA’s LA Rebellion Film Series. There was a unique “self” in each film; a distinct way to tell a story and take cinema out of the exclusivity that Mignon refers to.