Emma Mae

L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 7:00pm

Introduction by Sergio Mims, co-founder and co-programmer of Chicago’s Black Harvest Film Festival.
New 35mm print!

After the death of her mother, country girl Emma Mae (Jerri Hayes) leaves Mississippi for Los Angeles, her shyness, plain looks and rough edges belying her extraordinary ability to beat down anyone who disrespects her or those she loves. Arriving in L.A., Emma Mae quickly falls for a smooth-talking ne'er-do-well, who breaks her heart despite her selfless efforts to bail him out of jail, first by running a car wash under the watchful eyes of racist L.A. police, then by making a foray into bank robbery. Retitled Black Sister's Revenge for its video release, Jamaa Fanaka's sympathetic portrait of a young Black woman from the South making a difficult adjustment to life in the big city both riffs on and remakes the Blaxploitation genre; unlike the superheroics of a Coffy, Foxy Brown or Cleopatra Jones, Emma Mae's remarkable proficiency at kicking ass seems to derive from her ability to tap directly into a wellspring of Black women's latent powers in order to protect and serve her own.
(Jamaa Fanaka, 1976, 35mm, 100 min)

Preceded by:
A Day in the Life of Willie Faust, or Death on the Installment Plan
Jamaa Fanaka’s first project plays off the Blaxploitation’s genre conventions, an adaption of Goethe’s Faust presented with a non-synchronous soundtrack and superimposed over a remake of Super Fly (1972). Often out of focus with an overactive camera, the film immediately exudes nervous energy, but unlike Priest’s elegant cocaine consumption in Super Fly, Willie’s arm gushes blood as he injects heroin. A morality tale in two reels.
(Jamaa Fanaka, 1972, digibeta, 16 min)

Presented in association with UCLA Film & Television Archive and supported in part by grants from the Getty Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. The series is curated by Allyson Nadia Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Shannon Kelley and Jacqueline Stewart. Complete details on UCLA’s L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema initiative here.

University of Chicago Arts Council, Franke Institute for the Humanities, Tom Gunning/Mellon Fund, UC Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture, Logan Center for the Arts, Conversations at the Edge, Block Cinema, Black Cinema House.