Brooklyn Academy of Music
30 Lafayette Avenue
BAMcinématek presents Space Is the Place: Afrofuturism on Film, a kaleidoscopic, horizon-expanding exploration of alternate and imagined Black futures and pasts in science-fiction, genre-bending global cinema, unorthodox documentary, and innovative music videos. Opening the series on Friday, April 3 is Dick Fontaine’s Beat This!: A Hip Hop History (1984), one of the earliest filmed documents of hip-hop culture along with Wild Style and Style Wars. Featuring cameos by DJ and hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa, early hip-hop group the Cold Crush Brothers, DJ Jazzy Jay, renowned b-boy crew the Dynamic Rockers, and glimpses of DJ Kool Herc’s notorious dance parties, Beat This! is a sci-fi tinged time capsule of the early days of the movement, complete with rhyming narration by Imhotep Gary Byrd. Bambaataa will appear in person following the screening for a Q&A with cultural critic Greg Tate.
Additional highlights include Nance’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012—Apr 13); Lizzie Borden’s pseudo–documentary Born in Flames (1983—Apr 15), which imagines a lesbian-led feminist revolution and projects a dystopian future onto grimy Koch-era New York City; and Cosmic Slop (1994—Apr 13), a controversial, three-part HBO special that has drawn comparisons to The Twilight Zone and features George Clinton’s floating head as narrator.
Beat This!: A Hip Hop History
Space Is the Place & Afronauts
This beguiling monochrome short tracks the Zambia Space Academy’s attempts to beat America to the moon.
A Joyful Noise
The Brother from Another Planet
The Brother from Another Planet & Pumzi
The Brother from Another Planet, Sayles’ witty urban spin on the runaway slave narrative, a mute extraterrestrial (Joe Morton crash-lands in Harlem after a spaceship accident and finds himself on the run from two mysterious white hunters. Stylishly shot by Spike Lee collaborator Ernest Dickerson—A thought-provoking spin on the use of the black image in science fiction. (1984), 35mm, 108min. Directed by John Sayles. Cast: Joe Morton, Daryl Edwards, Rosanna Carter.
Ornette: Made in America
Ornette: Made in America (1985), 35mm, 85 min. Directed by Shirley Clarke. The great experimental filmmaker has painted this portrait of avant-garde jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman—who was once asked by NASA to compose music to coincide with their space program. Clarke blends thrilling performance excerpts, futuristic music videos, and imaginative reenactments of Coleman’s childhood, resulting in an invigorating document of a unique artist and original thinker.
Saturday, April 11, 2015, 9:30pm
Welcome II the Terrordome & Robots of Brixton
Screens with Robots of Brixton Directed by Kibwe Tavares.
Sankofa (1993), Digital, 124 min. Directed by Haile Gerima. Cast: Kofi Ghanaba, Oyafunmike Ogunlano, Alexandra Duah. Haile Gerima’s blistering parable tells the story of a self-absorbed African-American fashion model who, while on a photo shoot in Ghana, is spiritually transported to a plantation in the antebellum South. Here, she experiences the horrors of slavery—and ultimately, the redemptive power of community and rebellion. Sankofa is a beautiful and disturbing Afrocentric interrogation of the past through a contemporary lens.
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (2012), DCP, 84 min Directed by Terence Nance. With Alisa Becher, Jc Cain, Dexter Jones. This remarkable debut feature charts the relationship between director-star Nance and a beautiful young woman as it teeters on the line between romantic and platonic. Weaving an alluring tapestry of live action, home video, and Afrofuturistic animation, Nance boldly explores the fantasies, memories, and emotions that race through his mind during a singular moment in time.
Cosmic Slop (1994),DCP, 83 min. Directed by Reginald Hudlin, Warrington Hudlin, Kevin Rodney Sullivan. Cast: Robert Guillaume, Jorge Ameer, Larry Anderson, Noëlle Balfour. With frequent nods to The Twilight Zone, this psychedelic trilogy takes its title from the 1973 album by Afrofuturist pioneers Funkadelic and features the recurring presence of George Clinton’s floating head as narrator. This film has stoked controversy for its provocative depictions of class and racial tensions when it aired on HBO in 1994.
The Last Angel of History
The influential Black Audio Film Collective crafted this experimental blend of sci-fi parable and essay film, which also serves as an essential primer on the aesthetics and dynamics of contemporary Afrofuturism. Interviews with esteemed musicians, writers, and cultural critics are interwoven with the fictional story of the—data thief— who must travel through time and space in search of the code that holds the key to his future.
Followed by a panel discussion
Born in Flames