Sunday, February 8, 2015

Losing Ground - This Week at Walter Reade Theater in NYC

Last week, I published a blog post about the late Kathleen Collin's great film, Losing Ground, which she produced along with her longtime collaborator, filmmaker Ronald K. Gray (another mentor of mine), who was the Director of Cinematography on the project. I noted that Kathy (1942-1988) was my film teacher and mentor when I attended the Picker Film Institute at City College of New York.The film opened this past Friday at the Walter Reade Theater in New York, as part of the Lincoln Center Film Society's film series, "Tell it like it is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986." The film is about the complex relationship between an African American husband and wife--Sara, a professor of philosophy, and Victor, a painter. This film casts a black woman in the center of the narrative--and she does not take care of white people.  I don't want to say more, because you really should go out and see this very funny and deeply moving film. Here is the trailer:

It is garnering incredible (and well-deserved) media attention--from the New York Times:

Peeling Back the Layers of Black Indie Film

"A story of emotional distress and creative striving among the black intelligentsia, with the wobbly marriage of a painter and a philosophy professor at its center, the film casts a highly individual spell. Driven as much by mood and setting as by plot, it follows the main couple, Sara (Seret Scott) and Victor (Bill Gunn), from the busyness of New York to the pastoral calm of the town upstate where they take a house for the summer. Victor is enchanted by the natural beauty and the local beauties, one of whom becomes his model and muse. Sara, meanwhile, agrees to appear in a student film alongside a charismatic actor (Duane Jones) whose deep voice and enigmatic utterances fascinate her."

Click here for the whole story.

Lead Actress Seret Scott
The gala premiere had sold out well in advance of the screening, there was a standby ticket line, and the house was packed. Watching the film again--with fully restored audio, in a large movie theater--was like a dream--emotional, moving, and gratifying. 

After the screening, there was a Q&A with the filmmakers--Seret Scott (the lead actress), Ronald Gray (co-producer and cinematographer--Ronald was also Plainfield filmmaker Alrick Brown's cinematography professor at NYU), and Nina Collins (Kathleen Collins's daughter, who rescued her mother's legacy and helped get the film into distribution). All spoke passionately about the difficulty black filmmakers have getting their projects produced--this issue remains a travesty. 

Cinematographer Ronald K. Gray
I was amazed at how many folks on the longtime arts scene in New York had still not seen the film as I caught up with old friends (other writers, artists, filmmakers, academics, musicians, etc.) and talked about Kathy's legacy--again, her vision, humor, talent, and artistry all come through in this beautifully-acted work of art. I am gratified to see that the world has finally caught up with Kathy--the reviews and attention this lost masterpiece has received goes a bit of a ways in righting an historical injustice. I was very proud to have been a part of this particular aspect of African American artistic history. Again, I urge everyone to see this important film and support black arts. 


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