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”

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”

The Post-War Passing Film: Lost Boundaries

Lost Boundaries (Werker, 1949) is an exception in the post-war melodrama as it chooses not to focus on the female or the individual, but on the attempts of an entire mixed-race family to ‘pass’. Based on a true story and adapted from William L. White’s 1948 novel, its protagonist is Dr Scott Carter (Mel Ferrer).Continue reading “The Post-War Passing Film: Lost Boundaries”

Racial Passing in the Classic Hollywood Melodrama

The classic Hollywood mixed female ‘passer’ is generally male-dependent and gripped by fear that her lover/boss/maid will discover her secret and ruin her.  The endurance of this template is evidenced by the deadly desperation of mixed protagonists in Perfect Stranger, The Crying Game and Devil in a Blue Dress.  In I Passed for White (Wilcox,Continue reading “Racial Passing in the Classic Hollywood Melodrama”