Stephen Dwoskin – Chinese Checkers (1965)

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Chinese Checkers
Two women play Chinese checkers. Halfway through the film, the women are transformed through masks, make-up and costumes and they drift from a concentration on the board game to a concentration on each other’s hands and eyes, engaging in a game of seduction and lovemaking. Chinese Checkers was shot in New York in 1964 just before Dwoskin moved to the UK. It features Joan Adler and Beverly Grant and is based on a story by American experimental filmmaker Harry Smith. This film is not suitable for young audiences. Continue reading

Marin Karmitz – Nuit noire, Calcutta (1964)

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Nuit Noire, Calcutta is the story of a writer, Jean (Maurice Garrel), who has come to the coast to complete a novel about the french vice consul in Calcutta. He does not find his task an easy one, and he struggles throughout to find adequate words for his story. Convinced, as he puts it, that the words do exist somewhere, he is shown repeatedly working on his manuscript, deleting sentences, or tearing pages in frustration. In the process he empties several bottles of whisky (hence the connection with the theme of alcoholism). As he writes, there is a story unfolding in the outside world that seems to parallel the one he is inventing, although it is not clear which of these is mirroring the other. The two series of events refuse to converge; but this enables the film to explore the ironical,metaphorical relationship between the imagenery, speculative world of Callcutta and the dunes and mudflats of the Seine estuary at Ouistreham. Continue reading

Barbara McCullough – Water Ritual #1: An Urban Rite of Purification (1979)

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acqueline Stewart wrote:
Made in collaboration with performer Yolanda Vidato, Water Ritual #1 examines Black women’s ongoing struggle for spiritual and psychological space through improvisational, symbolic acts. Shot in 16mm black-and-white, the film was made in an area in Watts that had been cleared to make way for the I-105 freeway, but ultimately abandoned. At first sight, Milanda (Vidato, wearing a simple dress and scarves on her head and waist) and her environs (burnt-out houses overgrown with weeds) might seem to be located in Africa or the Caribbean, or at some time in the past. This layering of locations and temporalities continues to the film’s striking conclusion, in which a now nude Milanda squats and urinates inside an urban ruin. By making “water,” Milanda evokes the numerous female water-based figures in African-Diaspora cosmology as she attempts to expel the putrefaction she has absorbed from her physical environment, while symbolically cleansing the environment itself. Continue reading

Julie Dash – The Diary of an African Nun (1977)

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Shannon Kelley wrote:
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 deliberate first move by its director toward narrative filmmaking, though 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. Continue reading

Dimitris Koutsiabasakos – O Iraklis, o Aheloos kai i giagia mou AKA Hercules, Acheloos and my Granny (1999)

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Ο Ηρακλής, ο Αχελώος και η γιαγιά μου

Dimitra Koutsiabassakos is 88 years old and lives alone in the village of Armatoliko in the Pindos mountain range, on the banks of the ancient river Acheloos, named after the mythical river god who fought Heracles for the favors of a woman and who could take on many forms. Dimitra’s home is located near the place where a great dam is being built and lies right in the middle of the area destined to become a lake after construction is completed. By a strange quirk of fate, the materials used in the construction of the dam are a product of a cement company named “Heracles”, so that it seems that the age-old contest between Acheloos and Heracles continues to the present day! Dimitris, Costas and Petros decide to pay their grandmother a visit and make a documentary.

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Parviz Kimiavi – P mesle pelican AKA P Like Pelican (1972) DVD

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Quote:
An old hermit lives in a slum and wants to teach the alphabet to the children regularly go there to play. What makes the hermit happiest however, is when he comes to the letter P (for “Pedarsag”, or “Puppy”). When a child proposes he use the word “Pelican” instead, the hermit goes to the nearby park looking for this animal he has never heard of. Continue reading