Los Angeles is the film capital of the world. There is no arguing that: it’s a fact! It’s been the home of many filmmakers and actors and artists surrounding the world of film since the twenties. Much of “the biz” gets washed away in entertainment and stripped of art, which begs the question of where film fits into the art community and Pacific Standard Time. One show that highlights this perfectly is UCLA Film & Television Archive’s L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema.
The exhibition is a series of screenings of films that are the product of African American students who studied at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, And Television between the late sixties and early eighties. This group of students are, in a way, their own sub-genre of artists and filmmakers, a collective that created cinema pieces that were “responsive to the lives and concerns of African and African American communities and the African diaspora.” This group is referred to as the L.A. Rebellion, a group who created film art responding to the Civil Rights Movement locally (namely to the Watts Uprising, not to mention the Vietnam War). Artist filmmakers like Larry Clark, Ben Caldwell, Allie Sharon Larkin, Charles Burnett, and many others came and went through the system, mentoring each other and incoming students, keeping the movement going and extending the canon of films to approximately forty works.
Of course, with modern technology and the Internet, many of the films in L.A. Rebellion can be found bit by bit online. Films like To Sleep With Anger, Cutting Horse, Daughters Of The Dust, The Rosa Parks Story, and a few others can be rented and tracked down by scouring eBay and Google. However, the majority of them are very rare and have never received a theatrical release which is why the showing of films is so important. Moreover, each screening features a talk with filmmakers on their films.
For more on L.A. Rebellion, check out Pacific Standard Time’s blog (which directs to a few other videos). But, below, watch Bernard Nicolas’ Daydream Therapy, an eight minute fantasy film of a “hotel worker’s escape from workplace” set to Nina Simone’s “Pirate Jenny.”
Photo above: ASHES AND EMBERS, 1982, Haile Gerima. Film Still, 120 min.