Free Screening: THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD, 6/22, 7pm

On Thursday, June 22, the Black Film Center/Archive presents a free screening of The House on Coco Road.  The screening will be held at 7pm at the IU Libraries Screening Room in Wells Library.  Reservations are required and can be made online at http://iub.libcal.com/event/3363205.

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Directed by Damani Baker, The House on Coco Road is a compelling story about Baker’s mother, Fannie Haughton, an arising social activist in the 1960s.  The film spans Baker’s family history, his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area with personal connections to Angela Davis and her sister Fania Davis, to spending some of his childhood on the Caribbean island of Grenada.  Grenada initially appeared to be a paradise, marking a turning point for Haughton after witnessing the harsh prejudices that African Americans often endured in her native Oakland hometown, but Grenada’s peaceful environment was short-lived.  The government experienced political upheaval, especially regarding the prime minister’s role as a leader, as well as the position of the military.  As Grenada’s leadership changed, the Reagan administration grew concerned with Grenada’s military and political alliances, and as a result, invaded Grenada, having a profound effect on this island nation.

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Damani Baker and Fannie Haughton

Baker’s film features interviews with his mother, as well as interviews with Angela Davis and Fania Davis. Baker also incorporates primary sources such as recorded tapes that he discovered, newspaper sources, and strong archival footage.  The House on Coco Road premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2016, and was announced in May 2017 as the 16th acquisition of ARRAY, a film distribution company founded by Ava DuVernay.

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Filmmaker Damani Baker

Damani Baker offers this synopsis of The House on Coco Road on the film’s website:

In 1979 the Grenadian people carry out the first successful revolution in the English speaking Caribbean. Maurice Bishop becomes Prime Minister. The Revolution attracts workers from around the world including my mother, Fannie Haughton.

In 1982 Angela Davis, her family, and my mother visit Grenada to witness this miraculous Peoples’ Revolution. In 1983 my mother is offered a position in the Ministry of Education and we leave our home in Oakland and move to Grenada. I’d never seen her happier.

Grenada was briefly our home. In 1983 the United States led a military invasion following the assassination of the young popular Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop. We hid under the bed for three days as bombs shook our new paradise, and changed its course forever. Sixteen years later, in 1999, I returned to Grenada with my mother, and began shooting a documentary film, searching for her story, one that felt not just untold, but unfinished.

In 2014, I discovered a box of family super 8 footage of my great grandmother in rural Louisiana on the land our family sharecropped and my grandmother’s migration west. I started to unravel my mother’s path to activism. I started to understand why my mother, and a group of tireless women, had put their lives on the line, daring to build a better world. You may not know their names, but they have changed the course of history.

For more information about the BFC/A screening, visit our Events page at http://www.indiana.edu/~bfca/events/

~Jessica Ballard

 


BLACK CAMERA Vol. 8, No. 2 Now Available

The latest issue of Black Camera: An International Film Journal is now available in print and online from the Indiana University Press.

Black Camera Spring 2017

The current issue features two Close-Up sections: The first, #BlackLivesMatter and Media, is edited by Charles “Chip” P. Linscott and features essays by Linscott, Michele Prettyman Beverly, and Alessandra Raengo; the second, Hip-Hop Cinema, is edited by Regina N. Bradley and includes essays by Robin M. Bolorn, I. Augustus Durham, Casarae L. Gibson, Adam Haupt, Peter C. Kunze, Brandon J. Manning, and Kenton Rambsy.

Also featured in this issue are articles by James Naremore, David Scott Diffrient, and Clitha Mason; the Africultures and African Women in Cinema dossiers; book reviews; and an Archival Spotlight on community archiving with the National Black Programming Consortium.

For more information about Black Camera, please visit http://www.indiana.edu/~blackcam.  To subscribe, visit http://purchase.jstor.org/products.php?issn=15363155


Digitizing the Richard E. Norman papers

In 2015, the Black Film Center/Archive received support from the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant program of the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct the Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking: Reprocessing and Digitization project, a three-pronged endeavor to reintegrate the dispersed papers of pioneering race film producer and distributor Richard E. Norman; to produce and publish a comprehensive new finding aid to the collection; and to digitize thousands of unique documents and other items in the collection for free public access online.

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The Norman Collection represents one of the greatest caches of material relating to the burgeoning study of early African American movie-going culture and race films. Consisting of historical materials ranging from personal and business correspondence to censorship reports to production documentation to promotional artwork, the Norman Collection provides a corpus for scholars seeking to explore the industry of independently-produced, African American-themed films starring Black casts and exhibited to Black audiences that thrived from the late 1910s through the mid-1950s.

In the 1910s, Norman, who had previously been working in niche “Home Talent” movies, became aware of independent, underground race films being screened at Black-operated theaters throughout the segregated South and Midwest. Though he was white, he turned to race films as his principal business enterprise and produced a series of successful all-Black feature films including The Green-Eyed Monster (1919), The Bull-Dogger (1921), The Crimson Skull (1921), and The Flying Ace (1926). The films highlighted African American action and romance in what were, for their time, almost fantasy settings. The Flying Ace, for example, followed the adventures of one Captain Billy Stokes, an African American pilot in the U.S. Armed Forces, a career that was entirely inaccessible to Black men until 1940.

Norman was a meticulous record keeper in both his professional and personal life and the collection he left behind is remarkable as a near-complete record of the Norman Film Manufacturing Company, benefiting researchers of Norman specifically as well as historians of social migration, itinerant filmmaking, and the silent era race films. Beyond Norman’s substantial achievements, his well-documented relationships with the many performers, filmmakers, studios, and theater operators connected to the race circuit make this one of the most significant collections of a scarcely documented culture. Film historian Matthew H. Bernstein writes “It is impossible to overstate the importance of Norman’s papers.” Bernstein explains its value not only to film history, but to understanding “a distinct strain of black popular culture in the 20th century.” He continues, “Beyond the realm of race filmmaking, the Norman papers are the most illuminating archival resource in existence for reconstructing black film culture.”

Megan MacDonald, the Richard E. Norman project archivist, has worked with African Diasporic collections at Indiana University for nine years. Before joining the Black Film Center/Archive staff in 2015, she was an archivist for Indiana University’s Liberian Collections working with one of the largest collections of Liberian materials in the United States.

As part of this NEH-funded project, MacDonald has coordinated the reintegration of the Norman Collection, which had been distributed across two campus repositories following its donation by Norman’s son, Captain Richard Norman, in the 1980s. In this conversation from last spring, MacDonald discusses the complications and discoveries that accompany a large scale archival access project such as this.

~Dorothy Berry

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Dorothy Berry: Can you tell me your position at the Black Film Center/Archive?

Megan MacDonald: Yes, I am the project archivist-slash-processing archivist for the Richard E. Norman Collection.

DB: Can you give a little background on what that collection entails?

MM: Yes, he [Norman] was a filmmaker in the 1920s, late 1910s, making at first… itinerant movies, where he would take the same movie plot and go around from city to city and film it with a new cast, a local cast, and then play it there for the townspeople to see. Then he got into race films, which were Black films for a Black audience, where the main characters were not the stereotypic slave “idiot” roles, and he made a few movies like that and was distributing those movies —  these were all silent films.Once the sound movies came about, he stopped making movies but continued to distribute movies. This collection doesn’t have any film in it, because most of it’s been lost with time. [Norman’s extant film materials were donated to the Library of Congress in the 1970s.]  [The collection] is mostly posters, and lobby cards, and photos, and all sorts of promotional materials, as well as distribution records from all the cities he traveled to. There’s a lot of correspondence. His brother was in the company with him, and his brother would be sent out to do some recruiting, to try to find theaters. It’s a little bit of everything, but no film for the film archives!

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Box Office Statement for the Black Gold screening at the Royal Theater in Charlotte, NC. November 19, 1927

DB: I know the Norman collection was spread out at different repositories on the Indiana University campus, how is the reintegration process going?

MM: It’s been, for the most part, easy. It was spread out between the Lilly Library, which is the rare books library here, and the Black Film Center/Archive. It wasn’t split in obvious ways. So there’s distribution records in both places, correspondences in both places. It isn’t one series here and the rest stayed there or vice-versa. For the most part, materials have been at both collections and integrating has been pretty easy because the series are mostly the same. There’s always going to be a correspondence series in both archives, there’s always the distribution, publicity materials are always there…the subseries maybe got a little bit divided, but it was still easy to bring it back to the top level and reintegrate, and then make the subseries.

DB: Were there any exciting or compelling new discoveries during this reintegration process?

MM: Well, it was all new and exciting for me because I had never seen the collection before. Coming from an archival background that didn’t necessarily deal with media or this time frame, it just was so cool to see all the photos and have that more pop culture reference from a time frame that really doesn’t have… isn’t really well known to someone like me. So it’s been constant exciting discoveries!

DB: Have any scholars or researchers come to access the collection since you’ve begun?

MM: We have fielded a few research inquiries, like right now I’m talking to someone who has a Kickstarter-funded movie project about the Compton Cowboys, which is something I’m definitely not familiar with, but it’s like the cowboy culture in California, the Black cowboy Hollywood culture…not even Hollywood, but Compton area, going back all the way to the 1920s. He wants to use Bill Pickett, who is a famous cowboy actor from that time period and he’s in a couple of [Norman’s] movies, The Bull-Dogger and The Crimson Skull. We might be sending him some scans of the posters, and stuff to use for the film.

DD: Where is the project at currently in its timeline?

MM: We are about halfway through. The first phase was to reintegrate both the groupings into one complete collection and have it encoded in a finding aid, which we now have online. Then the start of this year we started the scanning project, which will take the rest of the grant time. Images are appearing online with the finding aid, and will continue to be added. We have two students who are working on it, and I’m working at it.

DD: Final question: the project proposal mentioned possible future digitization projects beyond this EAD finding aid and digital collection. What ideas can you envision for a project such as this?

MM: Interesting. A digital exhibit, especially something involved with film or African American history, especially where those two intersect. I’d be interested in collaborating with other repositories to do an online exhibit of materials. IU has great scholarly support with people like Cara Caddoo and Terri Francis. Hopefully we can also be involved with classes, for some sorts of online collaborative projects.

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Photo from Green-Eyed Monster

[Note: A version of this article, written by Dorothy Berry and Megan MacDonald, first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of Black Camera.]


Roosevelt Faulkner’s Experiences in Sweden

Last summer, I was one of several lucky students in my research lab to present at the International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (the field commonly known as CSCL) in Gothenburg, Sweden. The conference brings together education researchers, technologists, and computer scientists from all over the world to share and discuss ideas on issues ranging from designing modern learning spaces to using social media in the classroom. Not only was I geeked about my paper being accepted, I was also geeked to be going to Scandinavia. I’d heard stories and saw pictures from people’s travels, but it never crossed my mind to visit. After finding some affordable tickets on Priceline, a colleague and I landed a quaint AirBnB flat just five minutes from the conference location.  I was set to go.

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I presented on  the use of mobile devices (e.g. tablet computers, mobile phones, and PDAs) in the classroom. We found several instances of studies investigating how teachers incorporate mobile devices in their lessons and these devices affect students’ learning outcomes and their collaborative behaviors. One interesting find was that tablet computers allowed for more fluid and natural interactions between group members.  Tablet computers allowed team members to face each other or freely move around in order to create a collaborative space, whereas, with laptops, students tended to be fixed in a position and had less eye contact with fellow members. Students using the tablets felt the tablets enhanced their collaboration and discussions.

The presentations were short and the atmosphere was very casual.  I was the only presenter in a tie, while the other presenters were in jeans- some with sneakers and some with casual dress shoes. This made for a different vibe I was not accustomed to. The last education conference I attended was the American Education Research Association conference in Chicago. People donned suits and the presentations had an air of hefty scholarship and cerebralness, which was starkly different at this conference in Sweden. For the tablet computer workshop, the presenters had to present using the PechaKucha format. With PechaKucha the presenter has exactly six minutes and forty seconds to present. Once time is up, the presentation closes. There were about 12-13 presentations, all showing the varying ways tablet devices were used.  Overall it was a good experience. The people were friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed.

My trip in brief:

City: Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden with a population of about 543,000 people living in the city proper and an additional 400,000 living in the metropolitan area. It is located on the  southwestern coast of Sweden. Gothenburg has an eclectic mix of architecture ranging from gothic to modernist styles.  The city is home to two universities- University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology- and annual film and music festivals.  It has a strong shipping and fishing industry, and it is the birthplace of Volvo.

Food and drinks: The food is delicious and really fresh, while the alcoholic beverages are pricy.. To my surprise, 7/11 had cheap and delicious prepared meals, unlike the ones in the States. If you have access to a kitchen, buying a few groceries would help cut down the costs of eating out. If you have a sweet tooth, Sweden is the the place to indulge in sweet desires. If the coffee cake during Fika, the Swedish word for afternoon coffee and dessert break, isn’t enough, or you want to stock up for the month, check out their candy shops. They are literally brick and mortar candylands.  Once you walk in, your jaw drops, your pupils dilate, and you salivate at the sight of aisles of delightful colorful and mouth watering treats from Swedish gummies to chocolates to hard candies.

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Money: The currency is known as the Krona with the abbreviation  SEK(Swedish Krona). It is  worth slightly more than the dollar; A 100 SEK is equivalent to 1.14 USD. Nowadays, US bank cards can be used overseas, especially those with the chip. Though this can be useful if you have a lot of transactions, one must be forewarned that a conversion fee may be assessed. Check your bank for details. Carrying cash is optional but best to have some for emergencies and small purchases.roosevelt3

To do: I like visual art, so I always make it a point to find an art museum.  Take your student ID because most of the time the museum offers student discounts. Explore! We walked around exploring areas to find new restaurants and bars after conference hours. Only if I had Pokemon Go then!

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Getting around was easy.  You can walk, bike, or take public transportation everywhere. They have dedicated bike-only pathways throughout the city.  They also have a tram system that runs until 12 am.

Communication: BUY THE INTERNATIONAL PLAN or check to see if your phone plan includes international calls.  If this is not the case, something as small as texting can have an exorbitant cost.  I racked up $400 in charges between texting and checking social media sites. Luckily I was able to get the charges reversed after retroactively purchasing the $30 international plan. What a relief!

 

Roosevelt Faulkner is a graduate student in the School of Education and research assistant in the Conundrums, Complex Systems, Collaborations, and Computers Lab (4C). In addition to his research work, Roosevelt works at the Black Film Center/Archive assisting with the blog, and designing promotional materials.


Jessie Maple’s Twice as Nice at IU Cinema, Sunday, Jan. 29

On Sunday, January 29, Jessie Maple and Leroy Patton will visit Bloomington to present Jessie’s 1989 feature, Twice as Nice, at the Indiana University Cinema.  The 3:00 pm screening is free but ticketed.  Professor emerita and former Black Film Center/Archive director Audrey McCluskey will introduce the film and host a Q&A with Jessie and Leroy following the film.

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Recently preserved by the Black Film Center/Archive through a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation, Twice as Nice follows twins Caren and Camilla Parker, both star players on a college women’s basketball team energized by the prospect of a first female pick in the upcoming “MBA” draft. Maple looks again here to the strength of community and family, as in her first feature, the groundbreaking Will (1981).

Maple’s cast, composed largely of non-professional actors, features legends of NCAA, Olympic, and WNBA basketball.  Among them are Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, and twins Pamela and Paula McGee.

As we look ahead to this weekend’s visit, take a look back at our earlier post “Into the Archive: Exploring the Jessie Maple Collection” for a glimpse into the personal collection placed at the BFC/A by Jessie in 2005.

 

 


Katrina Overby Participates in Study Abroad in Sweden

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In the summer of 2016, the stars magically aligned and I was blessed with a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate in a two-week study abroad in the beautiful capital of Sweden: Stockholm. At a time when I thought I would never have the opportunity to study abroad, I was granted the chance to fulfill a dream and I am forever thankful to have had this amazing experience. I participated in a study abroad graduate class titled Theory to Practice in a Diverse and Global Society. The course, offered through IUPUI’s Preparing Future Faculty and Professionals, examined a survey of leadership, faculty, and cultural development theories and practices in an experimental global setting through interactions with local and national government officials, business leaders, international faculty and staff, and faculty and students from Iowa State University. My classmates (Kimberly Burgess and Jantina Anderson) and I also participated in two micro-teaching sessions and mentored the undergraduate students from Iowa State University who were taking two classes for one month. The class was taught by Nashara Mitchell, former Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Student Development and Director of PFFP.

For my two micro-teaching sessions, I covered two topics that were closely related to what the students were learning and could find useful from a media perspective: Social Media and Global Awareness and Hegemony and Dominant Ideologies. In regard to professional development, I was able to learn more about myself as an instructor, was given the tools to navigate and understand my teaching philosophy, and articulate my own definitions of classroom teaching and learning.katrina-2

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One of the most amazing experiences was having a “Black Girls Rock in Sweden” themed dinner at a small but vibrant bar in a lovely area of town called Zinkensdamm toward the end of our visit. My colleagues and I met two amazing Black women during the first week of our program. One of them moved to Sweden from California three years prior with her boyfriend who was from Sweden. The other had lived in Sweden since the age of three when her family relocated from Cameroon. The other attendee was an Iowa State student. Our in-depth conversation at dinner included discussing racial issues in the US and Sweden, similarities in systems of gentrification, education, citizenship, what it’s like to be Black and abroad, and just common interests. I am still in able to keep up with both Hallex and Detria via Facebook and Snapchat and I can’t wait to see them again (we are trying to make plans☺)!!!

My two words of advice would be: 1) Always make sure that your passport is up to date because you never know when you may be traveling out of the country on short notice. 2)  Make a list of foods, places, museums, and eateries that you would like to try in another country and see how many you can mark off of your list, the world is ours to explore!

Quick List of My Favorites:

  • Coffee Shop: Wayne’s Coffee
  • Museums: Vasa and Nobel
  • Part of Town: Gamla Stan “Old Town”
  • Bar: The Dubliner
  • Restaurant: Strandbryggan Sea Club
  • Candy Shop: Caramella

~Katrina Overby

 

 


Julie Dash: IU Celebrates The 25th Anniversary of “Daughters of The Dust.”

Julie Dash’s rich filmography explores the spectrum of Black women’s experience across wide swaths of geography and time. The year 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking film Daughters of the Dust, and the Black Film Center/Archive is excited to sponsor a screening of the newly released digital restoration, along with a selection of early short films from her time as part of the UCLA-based Black cinema revolution known today as the L.A. Rebellion.

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In the late 1960s, Black students at the UCLA film school began to explore themes beyond the canon. Dash created her earliest short films then, each of which explores different but intersecting aspects of Black womanhood. Four Women (1975) experiments with music, dance and identity; The Diary of an African Nun (1977) contemplates complexities within spiritual relationships; and Illusions (1982) tells the story of a Black woman who passes for white to pursue a career in 1940s Hollywood.

Daughters of the Dust (1991), the first feature film directed by an African American woman to receive theatrical distribution in the U.S., engrosses the viewer in early 20th-century Gullah life. The film follows three generations of Peazant Family women as they prepare to leave the island their ancestors were brought to as slaves over a century earlier for opportunities up north. The lyrical magic-realist qualities of the film meld with historic truths to create a sense of uncommon understanding.(2K DCP Presentation) Director Julie Dash is scheduled to be present at this screening and all other screening events mentioned in the above poster.

For more information regarding this event series, please visit the IU Cinema website.

This series is sponsored by the Black Film Center/Archive, The Media School’s cinema and media arts program, the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies, and IU Cinema.