• film

45 Years of Women Make Movies

Black Women’s Filmmaking in the 1970s

A shorts program of rarely screened prints by four key directors shows women’s central role in the black filmmaking renaissance of the 1970s and suggests how many stories and talents are still missing: in a recent study of 1,000 popular films, only three were directed by black women.

 

Diary of an African Nun

Dir. Julie Dash, US, 1977, 16mm, b/w, 13 min.

In this adaptation of a short story by Alice Walker, a nun in Uganda is consumed by fear and doubt about her decision to take the solemn vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Her anguish intensifies as she lies on a hard bed in the convent listening to the beckoning drums of her village. An early short by Julie Dash, featuring Barbara O. who would later play Yellow Mary in Daughters of the Dust.

 

Four Women

Dir. Julie Dash, US, 1974, 16mm, 7 min. - Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

A dance film set to Nina Simone’s powerful ballad featuring Linda Martina Young.

 

A Minor Altercation

Dir. Jackie Shearer, US, 1977, 16mm, 30 min. - Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archives

A fight between an African American and a white schoolgirl in Boston is explored in all its complexity in this fact-based drama from Jackie Shearer, who worked at Women Make Movies in its early days and served as one of the producers of the historic PBS Eyes on the Prize
 

Your Children Come Back to You

Dir. Alile Sharon Larkin, US, 1979, 16mm, 27 min. - Print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive

From Alile Sharon Larkin (A Different Image), part of the LA Rebellion, comes a child’s perspective on wealth and social inequity. Tovi is torn between two surrogate mothers: one comfortably bourgeois, the other nationalist.

 

Killing Time

Dir. Fronza Woods, US, 1979, 16mm, 10 min. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archives

An offbeat, wryly humorous look at the dilemma of a would-be suicide unable to find the right outfit to die in, examines the personal habits, socialization, and complexities of life that keep us going. When the film recently screened at BAM, Richard Brody wrote in The New Yorker: “very simply, one of the best short films that I’ve ever seen.”

 

Fannie's Film

Dir. Fronza Woods, US, 1979, 16mm, 15 min. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archives

A 65-year-old cleaning woman for a professional dancers' exercise studio performs her job while telling us in voiceover about her life, hopes, goals, and feelings. A challenge to stereotypes of women of color who earn their living as domestic workers.