On Sept. 8, the IU Cinema screened two films as part of the film series “Home Is Where the Heart Is: Black Cinema’s Exploration of Home.” The series is curated by Maya Cade, the creator of the Black Film Archive and a scholar-in-residence at the Library of Congress.
The Black Film Archive is a collection of films telling Black stories ranging from 1915 to 1979, which are available for the public to watch online. The archive is a valuable resource for film historians, cinephiles and anyone else interested in the films created by 20th century Black filmmakers.
This screening event focused on films delving into the idea of the ‘Body as Home,’ specifically showcasing the bodies of Black women and how they are viewed both by the women themselves as well as by the outside world.
The films shown for the second series screening were “A Different Image” by Alile Sharon Larkin, who also directed “Your Children Come Back to You” — a short film that was shown on Sept. 1 series screening — and “Alma’s Rainbow” a film by Ayoka Chenzira.
“A Different Image” follows Alana, a young woman fascinated by African cultures, who has recently left a relationship. She is comfortable in herself and her body in the way that she has seen many of the African women she studies. She wears traditional clothing pieces, sits with her legs open instead of crossed and doesn’t fawn over any man she sees.
The story follows her interactions with Vincent, a male coworker and friend. Vincent finds Alana’s self-comfort odd and mistakenly thinks she is inviting romantic and sexual advances, which tarnishes their friendship. It invites the audience to question how they view the Black female body. Like Alana, or like Vincent?
“Alma’s Rainbow” is a coming-of-age story about Rainbow Gold, a young girl who learns to appreciate her body instead of hiding it. Influenced both by her mother Alma and her Aunt Ruby, Rainbow eventually learns what it means and what it costs to pursue her passions, all the while wrestling with her desire, or lack thereof, to interact with her male peers.
Rainbow begins the story binding her chest because she thinks it will give her more credibility in the hip-hop dance scene. When her Aunt Ruby — a woman who embraces and uses both her body and sexuality to build her career — comes to visit, Rainbow is inspired by her. Her mother; however, is a very physically conservative, business-focused woman who does not approve of her sister’s lifestyle, and Rainbow feels a pull from both sides.
Both of these films are a beautiful exploration of the Black body, and well worth a viewing. These films and more can be found at the Black Film Archive website.
There will be three more events in the “Home Is Where the Heart Is: Black Cinema’s Exploration of Home” film series at the IU Cinema, two of which Cade herself will attend.
The upcoming screening of “Dreaming Rivers” and “Black Mother” will be screened on Sept. 22. “African Woman, U.S.A.” and “My Brother’s Wedding” will be shown on Sept. 30, and Cade will have an in-person conversation prior to these screenings. The final screenings will be “Behind Every Good Man” and “Pariah” on Oct. 1, and Cade will attend as well.