Too Black to be French

In this documentary film, Isabelle Boni-Claverie explores the role of race and the persistence of racism in France, as well as the impact of the French colonial past. Through an exploration of her personal family history, and interviews with historians and academics, TOO BLACK TO BE FRENCH peels back the layers of race relations in supposedly institutionally colorblind France. Boni-Claverie, a French-Ivorian, who grew up in upper class French society, unpacks how socio-economic privilege doesn’t mean protection from racial discrimination. Boni-Claverie solicits anonymous individuals to speak on their daily experiences with race, class, discrimination and micro-aggressions. TOO BLACK TO BE FRENCH also features interviews with acclaimed sociologists and historians including Pap Ndiaye, Eric Fassin, Achille Mbembe, and Patrick Simon to help contextualize racial history in France. Boni-Claverie’s film starts an urgent discussion on French society's inequalities and discrimination.
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Mrs. Goundo's Daughter

Mrs. Goundo is fighting to remain in the United States. But it’s not just because of the ethnic conflict and drought that has plagued her native Mali. Threatened with deportation, her two-year-old daughter could be forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), like 85 percent of women and girls in Mali. Using rarely cited grounds for political asylum, Goundo must convince an immigration judge that her daughter is in danger. Sensitive and moving, this important film reveals how women are profoundly affected by the legal struggles surrounding immigration. As issues of asylum, international law and human rights collide with FGM and its devastating health consequences, filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater travel between an FGM ceremony in a Malian village, where dozens of girls are involved, to the West African expatriate community of Philadelphia, where Mrs. Goundo challenges beliefs and battles the American legal system for her child’s future.
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Chisholm '72 - Unbought and Unbossed

Recalling a watershed event in US politics, this compelling documentary takes an in-depth look at the 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first to seek nomination for the highest office in the land. Following Chisholm from her own announcement of her candidacy through her historic speech in Miami at the Democratic National Convention, the story is a fight for inclusion. Shunned by the political establishment and the media, this longtime champion of marginalized Americans asked for support from people of color, women, gays, and young people newly empowered to vote at the age of 18. Chisholm's bid for an equal place on the presidential dais generated strong, even racist opposition. Yet her challenge to the status quo and her message about exercising the right to vote struck many as progressive and positive. Period footage and music, interviews with supporters, opponents, observers, and Chisholm's own commentary all illuminate her groundbreaking initiative, as well as political and social currents still very much alive today.
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What My Mother Told Me

Exquisitely beautiful and profoundly moving, WHAT MY MOTHER TOLD ME is a dramatic journey towards self discovery. The story focuses on Jesse, a young woman from England, who goes to Trinidad to bury her father. Reluctantly she agrees to meet her mother, whom she thought had abandoned her when she was a child. Her mother tells her stories, revealing a troubled and violent marriage, and Jesse is forced to face the truth about her past. WHAT MY MOTHER TOLD ME cleverly evokes complex connections between history, memory, violence and cultural identity.
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Siren Spirits

SIREN SPIRITS is a wonderful feature comprising four short dramas directed by women of color, produced by Leda Serene for the British Film Institute and BBC Television. Ngozi Onwurah’s WHITE MEN ARE CRACKING UP uses a murder mystery to explore the legacies of British colonialism and the exoticization of Black women. Using magic realism, MEMSAHIB RITA by Pratibha Parmar looks at the physical and emotional violence of racism. Shanti is haunted by both the racist taunts of nationalist white youths and the memory of her white mother. Dani Williamson’s GET ME TO THE CREMATORIUM ON TIME is a moving portrait of undying love and grief. When her husband of twenty years dies, Bonetta is overcome by her loss and is taken to a mental hospital; but she knows she must escape to get to the crematorium to say farewell to the man with whom she has shared her life. In Frances-Anne Solomon’s BIDESHI a 50-year-old Bengali man lies in a coma in hospital, his soul stuck in a dark tunnel near death, until a resolution of his conflict with his daughter liberates his spirit. SIREN SPIRITS shows the powerful complexity of family and race relations in contemporary society and is testament to the brilliant creativity of these four directors. SIREN SPIRITS is only available as an 80-minute program.
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Home Away from Home

A bittersweet drama that unfolds almost without dialogue, this prizewinning short film from Sankofa Film and Video conveys the isolation of immigrant women’s experiences. Miriam lives with her children in a cramped and dreary house near the airport where she works. The planes coming and going overhead remind her of how far removed she is from her rural African roots. Eventually Miriam constructs a beautiful mud hut in her garden, a magical space which takes her away from the loneliness crowding her suburban existence. Although her neighbors are intolerant, her daughter Fumi learns something about the African side of herself.
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The Body Beautiful

This bold, stunning exploration of a white mother who undergoes a radical mastectomy and her Black daughter who embarks on a modeling career reveals the profound effects of body image and the strain of racial and sexual identity on their charged, intensely loving bond. At the heart of Onwurah’s brave excursion into her mother’s scorned sexuality is a provocative interweaving of memory and fantasy. The filmmaker plumbs the depths of maternal strength and daughterly devotion in an unforgettable tribute starring her real-life mother, Madge Onwurah.
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I Is a Long-Memoried Woman

This extraordinary film chronicles the history of slavery through the eyes of Caribbean women. A striking combination of monologue, dance, and song—griot-style—conveys a young African woman’s quest for survival in the new world. Based on award-winning poems by Guyanese British writer Grace Nichols, the evocatively rendered story charts abusive conditions on sugar plantations, acts of defiance and the rebellion which led to eventual freedom. Produced by a Black women’s collective, I IS A LONG-MEMORIED WOMAN illuminates Black diasporic culture and heritage.
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Perfect Image?

Bright and imaginative in its approach to its subject, PERFECT IMAGE? exposes stereotypical images of Black women and explores women's own ideas of self worth. Using two actresses who constantly change their personae, the film poses questions about how Black women see themselves and each other and the pitfalls that await those who internalize the search for the "perfect image"!
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Coffee Colored Children

This lyrical, unsettling film conveys the experience of children of mixed racial heritage. Suffering the aggression of racial harassment, a young girl and her brother attempt to wash their skin white with scouring powder. Starkly emotional and visually compelling, this semi-autobiographical testimony to the profound internalized effects of racism and the struggle for self-definition and pride is a powerful catalyst for discussion.
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Dreaming Rivers

From Sankofa Film and Video comes this bittersweet and nostalgic short drama illustrating the spirit of modern families touched by the experience of migration. Miss T., from the Caribbean, lives alone in her one-room apartment, her children and husband having left her to pursue new dreams. When she dies her family and friends gather at her wake. The tapestry of words that interweave the drama convey the fragments of a life lived, but only partly remembered.
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Emergence

Common themes of identity, alienation and herstory in the context of the diasporan experience emerge in this powerful film. Four Black and Third World women artists, among them African American feminist poet Audre Lorde and Palestinian performance artist Mona Hatoum, speak forcefully through their art and writing.
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The Passion of Remembrance

The first film by Sankofa Film and Video, THE PASSION OF REMEMBRANCE has gained classic status as a representation of the totality and diversity of Black experience. Within a dramatic framework the film gives a mosaic impression of the different dimensions of Black experience lived and imagined by a generation of filmmakers in the UK. As beautiful as it is eloquent, THE PASSION OF REMEMBRANCE is critical viewing for those interested in race, gender, history and cinema studies.
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