THE X GENERATION:

THE INDIE FILMS OF GEN-X AFRICAN-AMERICANS

About the Series:

A brand new, 4-film, monthly series on the third Saturday of the month, featuring films by Black filmmakers and curated and introduced by Brandon David Wilson.

About our Guest programmer:

Brandon David Wilson is a filmmaker, writer, and educator. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he attended UCLA where he took a B.A. in African-American Studies and an M.F.A from UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. In 2005 he made his feature debut, The Man Who Couldn’t, which opened at the 2005 Pan-African Film Festival and which won the Oscar Micheaux Award at the Bare Bones Film Festival in Oklahoma. His second feature, Sepulveda, world premiered in New York City at the 2016 Urban World Film Festival. Brandon is currently working on a web series called Validation that he co-created with his wife, Jena English. Brandon has written for Roger Ebert’s website, and recent work also includes an essay in a book on Barry Jenkins’s The Underground Railroad. Brandon has taught film studies courses at UCLA, Columbia College Hollywood, Los Angeles Valley College, NYU’s Los Angeles Branch, and Long Beach City College. He also currently teaches film studies in secondary education

Series Description:

This year marks the 30th anniversary of a watershed year for cinema. In 1992, several new waves reached critical mass: American Independent Cinema exploded, New Queer Cinema solidified its place in the culture, Spike Lee’s magnum opus Malcolm X hit the screens and brought a new roster of Black Cinema in its wake. And watching all of this was a new generation of cinephiles eager to step through the doors that an older generation had opened.

Generation X began making its first films in the 1990s. Their films reflected the influence of the movements mentioned earlier but they also reflected the unique sensibilities the generation came to be known for: a love of pastiche, a rejection of Hollywood formula, and a deep-seated cynicism spawned by the formative experiences of Watergate, Vietnam, and the highest divorce rate in American history. Dwarfed in size by the Baby Boomer Generation, Gen-X wrestled with the legacy of the earlier generation’s youth as it tried to define its own. This sometimes resulted in cynicism toward the Boomer’s failed idealism or an attempt to reclaim and redefine idealism for themselves.

For African-American filmmakers of this generation, this all held true with the added complexities of race on top of it all. Gen-X African-Americans had to find their voice and develop a new lexicon for speaking cinematically to the realities of being Black in America. They sought to move the conversation away from patriarchy, cis-/heteronormativity, and monolithic views of Blackness all while showing their cinematic chops. They worked with ideas on form learned in film school and developed a love for eclecticism brought to them by cable television and home video.

In this 4 film series, we will take a look back at 4 films from the early years of the century all made by Gen-X African-American filmmakers who are each telling personal stories, even if they are not strictly speaking autobiographical.

~Brandon David Wilson

 

NIGHT CATCHES US

February 19th, 2022

Dir. Tanya Hamilton, starring Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Wendell Pierce, 2010

“To be a Gen-X African-American is to grow up in the shadows of legends. Our youth was dominated by stories of the past and the larger-than-life figures that shaped it. In her stunning feature directorial debut, directorial debut Tanya Hamilton blends fact and fiction to tell the story of Marcus, a former Black Panther who returns to Carter-era Philadelphia where he is known in some quarters as the man who betrayed a charismatic leader. Co-edited by frequent Jim Jarmusch and Todd Haynes editor Affonso Gonçalves, this east coast film feels like a western in the way it suggests that mythology has a power that truth cannot match. These characters have just begun to live under the weight of those myths.” – Brandon David Wilson

Introduction by Brandon David Wilson.

BROTHER TO BROTHER

March 19th, 2022

Dir. Rodney Evans, starring Anthony Mackie, Roger Robinson, Lawrence Gilliard, Jr., Daniel Sunjata, Aunjanue Ellis, 2004

“A queer Black college student grappling with his identity and searching for his voice (in the era before “intersectionality” informed our discourse) meets Bruce Nugent, an elderly gay poet who is also one of the last survivors of the Harlem Renaissance. The two men form an unlikely friendship with the younger man learning from his elder that men like them have played an important and vital role in defining Blackness. This film tackles head on the way Gen-X African-Americans had to confront the homophobia embedded in Black Nationalism in the course of defining themselves.” ~Brandon David Wilson

Remote introduction by Brandon David Wilson.

the HARImayA BRIDGE

April 16th , 2022

Dir. Aaron Woolfolk, starring Bennet Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Danny Glover, 2009

After receiving word that his estranged son has died abroad, a African-American man journeys from northern California to rural Japan to retrieve the body. This man, a child of the post-World War II era who inherited a bitter prejudice against the Japanese, has to come to terms with his bigotry and the damaging role it played in the relationship with his now lost child. As we consider what it means to be African-American abroad, the film displays a boldness in depicting a Black man as not just the victim of racial prejudice but also as a source of it. This is a Black Gen-X story in which the Black Gen-X character is largely absent from the screen, save for flashbacks. The first two films in the series chronicle the ways in which Generation X African-Americans have had to grapple with history that predates us, but this film zeroes in on our parents and the ways they become living reminders of earlier, complicated times. ~Brandon David Wilson

Remote introduction by Brandon David Wilson.

YELLING TO THE SKY

May 21st , 2022

Dir. Victoria Mahoney, starring Zoe Kravitz, Tim Blake Nelson, Sonequa Martin-Green, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Jason Clarke, Antonique Smith, Gabourey Sidibe, 2011

By the time this film was released, the “‘Hood Film” was past its prime, but in the 1990s, this sub-genre reigned. For her feature directorial debut (which world premiered at the 61st Berlin International Film Festival) Victoria Mahoney returned to this style of film but made it her own. Utilizing a combination of handheld camerawork and fluid long takes (the film was shot by Reed Morano who has since moved into the director’s chair herself), Mahoney borrows the syntax of ‘Hood films to tell the story of Sweetness O’Hara, a mixed race girl from a troubled family who is drifting into the nihilism of the streets when her home fails to give her the love and security she craves. By opening with a heartstopping scene of intraracial/colorist bullying, Mahoney throws down the gauntlet. She announces herself as both an accomplished director (Mahoney was a second unit director on Star Wars: Episode IX) and a fearless storyteller who tells the truth even if it violates the stifling propriety that earlier generations of Black heroines were restricted by. ~Brandon David Wilson

Remote introduction by Brandon David Wilson.