Jerome Dent, PhD Candidate at the University of Rochester visited the BFC/A as one of our inaugural visiting research fellows. Dent documented his research and the connections he found across texts in a series of Facebook posts which are compiled and featured here as a research journal.
Day 1! A bit of Julien, and some Greaves.
Day 2: Berry, Gunn and a couple of amazing shorts. “You’re into horror movies. I can dig it.”
Day 3: More (S. Torriano) Berry! Viewing The Embalmer (dir. Berry, 1996), the connections between it and Candyman (Rose, 1992) are obvious, but the former manages to make certain intersections explicit and visceral in a way that the latter does not! It’s a real gem!
Day 4: LA Rebellion! (Dash, Diary of an African Nun ; Gerima, Hour Glass ; Fanaka, A Day in the Life of Willie Faust, or Death on the Installment Plan ; Nicolas, Daydream Therapy ), White Zombie  and revisiting Gunn and Ganja (and Hess)!
Day 5: Interviews, Candyman (1992) and Shorts!
“The fact is, they don’t believe that we’re really people. I mean that’s the most extraordinary – that people could be so naïve as to believe that another human being is not really a human being is extraordinary in the 20th and 21st century. I spent much of my life…trying to convince people that I was real. When you sit on a plane, you have to eat a certain way, you have to dress a certain way, you have to carry yourself [a certain way], because you are always reassuring someone else that you’re not going to eat them, or mug them, or rape them…At one point, you’re attacked by this exhaustion, this intellectual and emotional exhaustion and you say ‘no more.’” — Bill Gunn (Ganja and Hess, Personal Problems), Interview by Phyllis R. Klotman, Black Film Center/Archive, 1983.
There’s much more to this complicated answer that he gives regarding investments in black spectatorship and the general reception of black films, but I’ve transcribed this bit which is very interesting in the context and subjects of his work. But it’s also something I think we should sit with rather than dismiss through an assumption that we’ve progressed beyond the moment that he’s illustrating, especially considering that this interview was conducted after he’d already reached a certain level of success.
Day 6: Revisiting Dickerson and Urban/Hood Horror! Tales from the Hood (Cundieff, 1995), Bones (Dickerson, 2001), Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (Dickerson, 1995), The Transfiguration (O’Shea, 2016). (Special mention: Black Devil Doll From Hell [Turner, 1984]) A high note on which to end this visit — the first of many for sure.
Jerome Dent, PhD Candidate, University of Rochester. Jerome Dent is a California native, but his academic studies have brought him to locations all across the United States. He has a B.A. in Comparative Literature and African American Studies from the University of California, as well as two M.A.’s in Humanities and Visual and Cultural Studies, from Mount St. Mary’s University and the University of Rochester respectively. His dissertation is focused on the figure of blackness and how it is represented in contemporary fiction films.