Recap: Black Cinema Now Symposium

by Ed Guerrero
Black Cinema Now Symposium Takes on Issues… Present and Future
041910_BlkCin_panel.jpgWith the organization and sponsorship of The Institute of African American Affairs, and additional support from Cinema Studies, the Mar 26-28 “Black Cinema Now” symposium gathered numerous scholars, producers, and critics, along with varied luminaries of black cinema discourse, to explore the ‘now’ and future state of black film production, criticism/scholarship, and reception.
041910_BlkCin_GregTate-JuanFlores.jpgOver the course of the weekend “Black Cinema Now” raised a number of defining questions including: What’s so ‘new’ about the ‘new’ black film wave, or has it hit a structural plateau? How, if at all, does the star system work for black people? Will black people in the master narrative always be defined by their, alleged, pathologies? In a digital world dominated by a landscape of screens from cell phone to jumbotron, what are the real political power stakes in the construction of the images that overdetermine so much of our lives? Can we conceptually and productively, triangulate [1]filmmakers [2]critic/scholars [3]audience into new discursive formations? Is black cinema dead, and if not, where does one go from here?
041910_BlkCin_StanleyCrouch-ToddBoyd.jpg“Black Cinema Now” (coordinated with TSOA’s the “Venus 2010 ‘They Called Her Hottentot’”) was a ‘box office’ hit, with Cinema Studies and other TSOA faculty and alumni contributing significantly to the panels and program. Cinema Studies professors Manthia Diawara and Ed Guerrero co-organized the event. Cinema Studies alumni, and now cinema studies professors in their own right, Michael Gillespie, Mia Mask, Paula Massood, and Keith Harris all gave enlightening papers interrogating everything from “film blackness” in mainstream cinema to “deauthoring” Spike Lee, and modialities of black masculinity in contemporary black cinema.
041910_BlkCin_group.jpgA number of Cinema Studies grad students were spotted in the audience including Robyn Citizen, Keith Corson, Daniel Loria, and Jared Brown. Additionally, Manthia Diawara, Michelle Wallace, Greg Tate, Armond White, Leslie Harris, Stanley Crouch, Clyde Taylor, Todd Boyd, Sam Pollard, Ed Guerrero, and Sheril Antonio all added lucid ruminations, contestations, dissertations, and prognostications about the ‘now’ and future of black cinema, as well as the political, economic, and cultural stakes in black cinematic and media representation.

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