Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989)
Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989)

Locarno Film Festival announced the featured films selected for the Black Light Retrospective – an unprecedented overview of Black film in the 20th century. The festival will pay its own homage to the Retrospective with a Prefestival screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989) presenting the restored copy on the occasion of the film’s 30th anniversary.

Based on a pivotal survey of 20th century full-length features, the Black Light Retrospective curated by Greg de Cuir Jr. will present well-known cult directors, but also race movies of the Twenties and Thirties, pioneering works, landmarks of Seventies Blaxploitation, plus filmmakers who captured on screen the race politics of their time. The main aim of the selection is to go beyond the concept of Black as societal identity to explore the imagery used by filmmakers who have addressed the historical and political issues at different times and in different places, exploring the challenges of being black outside the context of Africa and its societies. This overview focuses instead on black cinema from the Americas and Europe, interpreted by authors of different ethnicities and experiences, essential background with which to give shape to their vision.

Greg de Cuir Jr., curator of the Black Light Retrospective: “Black Light charts a historical panorama of international black cinemas while also putting into dialogue directors from a range of backgrounds that have made key works on the cultures and peoples of African descent, who have different identities and experiences in different parts of the world but with deep connections and relations. This panorama departs from Africa as a continent and from its cinema, because the subject of concern is what has happened with Africa’s children after they have been removed from their lands and forced to survive in various contexts across the centuries; how has this passage inflected and how has it been visualized by moving image cultures? An archival approach designed to reanimate the past for a fuller understanding of the black cinema that exists today. Classics by legendary auteurs, avant-garde works by film artists, genres and genre mixes of many types, they all can be found in Black Light, because there is no one conception of black cinema, or one conception of black people.”

Great black directors should not be compared only with other black directors, but with the outstanding filmmakers of all ethnicities and nationalities. The essential thing is to ensure they are not compartmentalized into aesthetic or cultural ghettos. Black Light brings to the screen and proposes a counter-history, elevating works that are less well-known and often omitted from the Western canon.

The 72nd Locarno Film Festival will take place from August 7 to 17, 2019.

These are the 47 titles in the Retrospective of Locarno72, Black Light:

Within Our Gates, by Oscar Micheaux (USA, 1920)

Borderline Kenneth, by MacPherson (UK/ Switzerland, 1930)

Daïnah la métisse, by Jean Grémillon (France, 1931)

The Blood of Jesus, by Spencer Williams (USA, 1941)

No Way Out, by Joseph Mankiewicz (USA, 1950)

Odds Against Tomorrow, by Robert Wise (USA, 1959)

Orfeu Negro, by Marcel Camus (Brazil / France / Italy, 1959)

The Cool World, by Shirley Clarke (USA, 1963)

La Noire de…, by Ousmane Sembene (France / Senegal, 1966)

Baldwin’s Nigger, by Horace Ové (UK, 1969)

La permission, by Melvin Van Peebles (France 1968)

Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, by William Greaves (USA 1968)

Uptight, by Jules Dassin (USA 1968)

Putney Swope, by Robert Downey Sr. (USA 1969)

Appunti per un’Orestiade africana, by Pier Paolo Pasolini (Italy, 1970)

Petit à petit, by Jean Rouch (France / Niger, 1970)

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, by Melvin Van Peebles (USA 1971)

Super Fly, by Gordon Parks Jr. (USA 1972)

The Harder They Come, by Perry Henzell (Jamaica, 1972)

Coffy, by Jack Hill (USA, 1973)

Ganja & Hess, by Bill Gunn (USA, 1973)

De cierta manera, by Sara Gomez (Cuba, 1974 – 1977)

Killer of Sheep, by Charles Burnett (USA 1978)

West Indies, byMed Hondo (France / Algeria / Mauritania, 1979)

Babylon, by Franco Rosso (UK / Italy, 1980)

Stir Crazy, by Sidney Poitier (USA, 1980)

Losing Ground, by Kathleen Collins (USA, 1982)

White dog, by Samuel Fuller (USA, 1982)

Amor Maldito, by Adélia Sampaio (Brazil, 1984)

Handsworth Songs, by John Akomfrah (UK, 1986)

She’s Gotta Have It, by Spike Lee (USA, 1986)

Classified People, by Yolande Zauberman (France, 1987)

Aboliçao, by Zózimo Bulbul (Brazil, 1988)

Do the Right Thing, by Spike Lee (USA, 1989)

A Dry White Season, by Euzhan Palcy (USA,1989)

Tongues Untied, by Marlon T. Riggs (USA, 1989)

Boyz n the Hood, by John Singleton (USA, 1991)

Daughters of the Dust, by Julie Dash (UK / USA, 1991)

Deep Cover, by Bill Duke (USA, 1992)

Juice, by Ernest Dickerson (USA / UK, 1992)

RUDE, by Clement Virgo (CAN, 1995)

Eve’s Bayou, by Kasi Lemmons (USA, 1997)

Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask, by Isaac Julien e Mark Nash (UK, 1995)

Jackie Brown, by Quentin Tarantino (USA, 1997)

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