Spirits Of Rebellion: Black Film From UCLA
Directed by Zeinabu DavisSpirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA provides the context and history of a group of filmmakers who came out of the UCLA film school with an agenda. Though they were of very diverse origins and with divergent ideas, these media artists shared a desire to create an alternative to the dominant American mode of cinema, an unwelcoming and impenetrable space for ethnic minority filmmakers that displayed insensitivity, ignorance and defamation in its onscreen depictions of people of color. The hope of this group was to realize a cinema of informed, relevant and unfettered black expression, and the means to bypass the restrictive (and generally white-controlled) apparatuses of distribution and exhibition and create a viable, alternative delivery system that would sustain the ongoing work of black cinema artists. Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA documents the lives and work of a small group of critically acclaimed, but as of yet relatively unknown, group of black filmmakers and media artists known as the Los Angeles Rebellion, the first sustained movement in the United States by a collective of minority filmmakers that aimed to reimagine the production process so as to represent, reflect on, and enrich the day to day lives of people in their own communities. Headlined by Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust), Charles Burnett (To Sleep With Anger), Jamaa Fanaka (Penitentiary), Haile Gerima (Sankofa), Billy Woodberry (Bless Their Little Hearts), Barbara McCullough (Fragments), Ben Caldwell (KAOS Network), Alile Sharon Larkin (Dredlocks and the Three Bears), Larry Clark (Passing Through) and Carroll Parrott Blue (Varnette's World: A Study of a Young Artist), the LA Rebellion filmmakers collectively imagined and created a black cinema against the conventions of Hollywood and Blaxploitation films by attending to the quiet moments of everyday life in their communities, and paying homage to the dignity of their characters.
Zeinabu irene Davis is an independent filmmaker and Professor of Communication at University of California, San Diego. Some of her award-winning works include a drama about a young slave girl for both children and adults, Mother of the River (1996); a personal essay on breastfeeding, Co-Motion, (2010) and an experimental narrative, Cycles (1989). Her dramatic feature film entitled Compensation (1999) features two inter-related love stories that offer a view of Black deaf culture and was the winner of the Gordon Parks Award for Directing from the Independent Feature Project and was selected for the Sundance Dramatic Film Competition. Her current documentary work, Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from UCLA is her latest release.