In 1976, an extraordinary group of Black feminist artists and activists organized the first ever Black women’s film festival: the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts. Films by Michelle Parkerson, Ayoka Chenzira, Edie Lynch, and Madeline Anderson, among others, were screened. The festival was simultaneously a celebration of the emerging world of Black women’s filmmaking as well as a radical call for the kinds of socio-political and institutional changes necessary for a Black women’s film culture to thrive. Four decades later, the Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts, 2023 commemorates the 1976 festival with a nine-week screening series, held in conjunction with Professor Allyson Nadia Field’s winter 2023 course “Creating a Different Image: Black Women's Filmmaking of the 1970s-90s,” and a two-day symposium about the original festival and the tradition of Black feminist filmmaking. For more information, visit voices.uchicago.edu/sojourner
To confront and critique historical and present-day injustices, Black women have used filmmaking as a tool for engaging social issues from the local to the global. Edie Lynch’s documentary Lost Control (1975) provides an intimate portrait of men and women struggling with drug addiction in Philadelphia. In Flag (1989), Linda Gibson uses montage and superimpositions to address questions of racism and American history. Shirikiana Aina’s documentary Brick by Brick (1982) explores the displacement of poor Black residents under the guise of “urban renewal” in 1970s Washington, D.C. Alile Sharon Larkin’s Your Children Come Back to You (1979) offers a child’s perspective on the impacts of local—and global—injustices on her world. (16mm and digital video, 124 min.)
Lost Control courtesy of courtesy of Medgar Evers College (CUNY) Library Archives. Flag courtesy of Experimental Television Center. Brick by Brick 16mm collection print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Your Children Come Back to You 16mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Presented by the Film Studies Center, Sisters in Cinema, and South Side Projections, and co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture.