On My Radar: Just A Band: The Movie

Wanuri Kahiu, director of sci-fi short Pumzi, and Anjali Nayar are working on a documentary about Just A Band.  Kahiu describes the project as:

… a kaleidoscopic portrait of four artistically eclectic twenty-somethings who form Kenya’s super nerdy Afro-electro-pop group Just A Band. The film follows them through projects and performances – from their out-of-control street parties in downtown Nairobi to the making of their blaxploitation music-mentry HA-HE, which became Kenya’s first Internet meme.

If you aren’t familiar with Just A Band, check them out:

Web Finds: Emeli Sande, Miranda July & More

I haven’t watched any documentaries on here, but you might find something of interest.

Have you been paying attention to The rise of black lesbian and gay cinema?

Miranda July gives us an awesome tip for those of us who are easily distracted hehe (this is an outtake of The Future).

The Death of the Black Owned Independent Bookstore, from the AALBC Blog (on the right hand side of your screen, you should see a “Support Black Businesses” image; click it for AALBC’s database of Black owned indie bookstores)

I might as well put Teju Cole in charge of my reading list.  His comments on Michael Ondaatje got me to add Coming Through Slaughter and Running in the Family to my reading list:

For purposes of marketing, writers are designated as poets, novelists, or something else. But writing is about matchmaking, an attempt to marry sensations with apt words. Ondaatje makes language translucent – the exact word, the exact placement of a comma – and the reader has the uncanny feeling of encountering ideas directly. His work is about the things I care most about: memory, threshholds, solitude, work (usually the work of hands), dangerous loves, half-remembered songs and scars of all kinds. It is a particular constellation of thoughts and experiences, so particular to me, I sometimes feel, that I’m unsure if I’m reading or if I’m the one being read.

The words of Emeli Sande are inspiration for any artists (h/t: Concreteloop)


I have yet to fully explore this but I’m starting to think that I have an inclination for indie films about love created by black men.  Theodore Witcher’s Love Jones.  Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for MelancholyTerence Nance’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty.  And now Djinn Carrénard’s Donoma, which I caught at New Directors/New Films:

Donoma exists without a translated trailer and only a few clips with English subtitles.  It was mostly through images that Carrénard got my attention.  When I added Donoma to M&W’s viewing list, I noted “love triptych. Paris.”  Limiting my brief synopsis to three words wasn’t intentional but upon reflection, it uses very little to say a lot as does Carrénard with this feature debut.

Three women, three interwoven storylines create this enticing guerrilla film.

Enticing because Carrénard respectfully breaks the rules of traditional storytelling.  In each of the three stories, Donoma shifts back and forth between present and past sometimes quickly and with little or no transition.  He, then, ends the film without any resolve but in a fashion I haven’t been able to appropriately name in brief.  Rather than easing you out of the story or offering some metaphoric conclusion with an obvious meaning, Carrénard ends the film in the midst of great emotion.

Though the non-traditional aspects of the film and 133-minute runtime can be mentally demanding, Donoma allows you to consider your own ideas about love without being overwhelmed.  Carrénard, who was studying philosophy when he realized he was a filmmaker, makes this allowance by introducing his thoughts on love very subtly throughout the film.

Though the three stories are meant to discuss different types of love (the passionate, the day-to-day, and the religious kind), one audience member noted, during the post-screening Q&A, that all three women were disturbed in some way.  In response to this Carrénard first joked that this was a result of having two sisters, then more seriously he responded that because he is a man, anything he creates involving women will be misogynistic.  It’s only upon reviewing his work is he able to see the misogyny.  Though misogyny is an intense word, I think Carrénard’s point was to acknowledge the male privilege he holds while creating his female characters.

Continuing on the point of saying a lot with a little, it’s been reported that Donoma was created on a budget of $200.  In the post-screening Q&A, Carrénard explained how he was able to make the film on such little money.  Everything that he used to make the film was either borrowed or gifted.  He only came up with the $200 figure after being pressed at Cannes about the film budget and being reminded by a crew member about the tuxedo – a $200 tuxedo was used in a scene that was later cut from the film.  (If this isn’t inspiration for every artist, I don’t know what is.)

For those curious about the film’s name:  Donoma is a Sioux word meaning the day has come (according to Carrénard) or similarly, sight of the sun (according to a bunch of random internet sources).  Carrénard chose to use a Sioux word because the name of his birth country, Ayiti (Haiti), has origins in a language of people indigenous to the Americas as well.

There is no word on an American distributor as of yet but I’m hopeful since it did go to theaters in France after its Cannes debut.  If you’re in the NYC area this week, you can catch it at BAM’s Ghett’Out Film Festival.

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is screening at several festivals over the next few months (click here for more details).  Below is a synopsis, teaser trailer, and some reactions to early screenings of the film.

A quick synopsis: An Oversimplification is a visually engaging film about love, based on real life events involving a boy named Terence and a girl named Namik.  The story is told with animation, documentary-style footage, live action, and narration.  Check the teaser:

Reactions to the film:
Tambay Obenson (Shadow & Act):

They say that there’s something of every artist in the work they create, whether a conscious decision or not; and the act of creating with the intent to surrender your creation (and in essence a piece of yourself) to a potentially scrutinizing audience, requires some degree of courage on the part of the artist; but I would further say that it takes a certain amount and kind of bravery to intentionally insert oneself (both literally and figuratively) completely naked (physically and emotionally) into one’s work, and then publicly present the completed work to not only family, friends and acquaintances, but also perfect strangers.

Although there is also risking the possibility (or danger even) that some may consider it more of an arrogance and pretentiousness than bravery; but some artists may actually embrace that interpretation as well.
Terence Nance’s feature film debut straddles that line, both in terms of content and structure…

LaToya Peterson (Racialicious):

Refreshingly, black women are Nance’s muses. Often in cinematic depictions of black love, the relationship is construed as adversarial. Here, as Nance documents the many loves that fit his archetype of “brown, maternal, well read, well traveled,” black women take center stage, his love for each of them palpable through the screen.

Me! (G is for Grace):

I was affirmed [by An Oversimplification of Her Beauty].  Prior to the screening, I spent a good part of the day, in my head, defending myself against someone’s insinuation that I’d done too much (shown too much interest, love, attention).  The film helped me let some of that go.  Things between Terence and Namik seemed pretty intense.  The word “love” was used between the two which kind of shocked me because I resist using that word too early on with people, especially with folks that I have romantic interest in.  The film led me to something like a revelation about using the word: spiritually, we can only give [out of] love; there is no such thing as giving [out of] like.

On My Radar: Alaskaland

From the film’s Facebook Page: After a tragic accident, Chukwuma, an Alaskan-raised Nigerian, is separated from his younger sister, Chidinma, who moves to Nigeria with their Uncle until she becomes of legal age. Two years later, the siblings reconnect to find their estrangement has created new personal and cultural frictions in ways that bring them closer to each other and their roots, as well as help them define what it means to be a Nigerian in Alaska.
Written & Directed by Chinonye Chukwu

The Future

The Future is about a couple, Jason and Sophie, who’ve been together for four years. Both are 35 and, whilst preparing to adopt a cat, realize that life is soon coming to an end. Thirty days before the cat, named Paw Paw, is to come home with Jason and Sophie, they quit their jobs and embrace the option of living more fulfilling lives.

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