Xala (Sembene, 1975)

Adapted from legendary Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene’s 1973 novel, Xala is a visually stunning satire which plays on themes of corruption, inequality and shame via symbolic hyper-realism. Xala uses humour to expose the harsh realities of neo-colonialism in 1970s Senegal, an enduring state of enforced dependency on the former colonising power regarding aid, education, military,Continue reading “Xala (Sembene, 1975)”

Decolonial Feminist Films: Safi Faye’s Selbe et tant d’autres (Senegal, 1983) and Trinh T. Min-ha’s Reassemblage (USA, 1982)

In her 1988 essay ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak argued that representation must be viewed as double; first it is a space in which people find a category of representatives, and second it is a space of re-presentation, a space for rhetoric and realism. The subaltern cannot speak, it does not have powerContinue reading “Decolonial Feminist Films: Safi Faye’s Selbe et tant d’autres (Senegal, 1983) and Trinh T. Min-ha’s Reassemblage (USA, 1982)”

Inhabiting the Inbetween: Isabelle Boni-Clavérie’s Pour la nuit

The 2005 short film Pour la nuit, directed by Isabelle Boni-Clavérie, presents a personal exploration of the mixed family.  The film is set overnight in Marseilles, a symbolically and literally transnational space (as both passage to Africa and multicultural French city).  The director Karim Dridi set his film Bye bye (1995) in Marseilles because: ‘SettingContinue reading “Inhabiting the Inbetween: Isabelle Boni-Clavérie’s Pour la nuit”

Transracial Fantasies in Mathieu Kassovitz’s Fierrot Le Pou

Synopsis: Set in an indoor basketball playing space, the film features two young adult characters: a skinny white boy (Kassovitz) who fancies the girl; an athletic black girl (Fabienne LaBonne) who appears indifferent to the white boy.  It is a comedy without dialogue which relies on the cinematic language of silent films and privileges visualContinue reading “Transracial Fantasies in Mathieu Kassovitz’s Fierrot Le Pou”

Pandemics, Posthumanism and Potentiality: Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever

Sara Ahmed[1] argues that institutions often attach failure to the individuals failed by them; the minoritised complainant who speaks out against discrimination is labelled as the cause and source of the problem. In order to maintain post-racial mythology (and elide the decolonising gaze), the complainant is stigmatised, silenced and excluded. Such conditions of social membershipContinue reading “Pandemics, Posthumanism and Potentiality: Neasa Hardiman’s Sea Fever”

John Cassavetes’ Shadows: A Snapshot of the Mixed-Race Experience

In 1957, the actor John Cassavetes decided to make Shadows, a film developed through a series of acting workshops: “We did everything wrong, technically…. The only thing we did right was to get a group of people together who were young, full of life, and wanted to do something of meaning.” In response to itsContinue reading “John Cassavetes’ Shadows: A Snapshot of the Mixed-Race Experience”

Forgotten Filmmakers: Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground

One of the first feature films by an African-American woman is Kathleen Collins’s 1982 masterpiece Losing Ground. The film is unique in many respects, not least for its centralisation of the black bourgeoisie. Losing Ground is a rare example of a feminist film focused on a complex, intellectual and reserved black female protagonist. Through itsContinue reading “Forgotten Filmmakers: Kathleen Collins’s Losing Ground”

New Black Horror: Get Out

Recent shifts towards populist, xenophobic politics have broken the ‘post-race’ illusion and made it painfully clear that we still live in racialised realities. As Michael Omi notes, race is still ‘a fundamental organising principle of individual identity and collective action’ (1996: 179). In particular, the events of 2020 led to a mainstream acknowledgement that raceContinue reading “New Black Horror: Get Out”

Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse

Métisse [Mixed-Race] (Kassovitz, France, 1993) adheres to the ethics of beur cinema by reimagining the French nuclear family as black, mixed and white through its central characters.  As a pioneering work it is flawed but, by directly engaging with issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, the film challenges the culturally embedded assumptions of itsContinue reading “Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse”

Race as Performance: Dear White People

University-set Dear White People (Simien, USA, 2014) exploits a familiar trope by dealing with racial politics through the mixed female body. Sam White (Tessa Thompson) is a media student in love with white Gabe (Justin Dobies), dating black Reggie (Marque Richardson), and ashamed of her mixed identity. In order to fit in with the blackContinue reading “Race as Performance: Dear White People”