film · independent

sundancing

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Still thinking it through, but moved by Rashid Johnson’s Native Sun. Two fellow Sundance Film Festival volunteers and I were able to get into a press screening. The film is still tragically relevant. I have mixed feelings about Richard Wright owing to my love for Zora Neale Hurston, but tipping my hat to a story with lasting impact. I would definitely show this in a future class.

I especially appreciated seeing a few scenes from Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Badassss Song and hearing the music at the end of A Bronx Tale at the end of this movie. Eerie echoes of loss

This is my first time back at Sundance since 2009. Florida girl dealing with the temps just fine. The high will be 36 on Sunday yay!

Good Zoom meeting with my grad class today. Appreciated tensions between hearing students sort through what it means to move through space. One student said driving a car meant a certain kind of progress whereas a student from a suburb of New York City where a car is often more of a hassle had another view. Enjoyed hearing yet another student address the freedom to be had in walking to our campus library. All of these comments were in reference to the way in which women inhabit space as revealed in Lauren Elkin’s book on the flaneuse and Stephanie Camp’s study on the everyday resistance of enslaved women on plantations.

Next week, we turn to Imani Perry’s biography on Lorraine Hansberry. Talk about a storyteller. Identity is our theme. How do we find meaning in the experiences this postwar playwright and her father who successfully sued for the right to live in a white Chicago neighborhood? He’d die in Mexico, however. Like Richard Wright and other people of African descent, he sought relief from the pressures of life in America as a man of color outside of this country’s borders. Seeing as borders are often in the headlines, it will be worthwhile to see how they figure into next week’s conversation. And I do mean borders that go beyond physical space. Hansberry certainly was a woman who had to make many compromises as she walked a very fine line between what it meant to be respectable and not. There are many entry points between her experiences and those of historical actors earlier discussed in this class.

Meanwhile, students enrolled in my “American Civilization Since 1865” course will listen to two final audio lectures that also address identity. In their case, we address America’s growing identity as a influential empire at the turn of the century. Related topics include the arrival of Jim Crow and growing calls for reform in a country where some are realizing many segments of the population, including newly arriving immigrants from southern and central Europe, need assistance. This, too, poses tensions with today’s headlines.

I’ll be thinking about these issues and more as I volunteer and take in other movies, but especially turn to the New Frontier exhibits featuring experimental work that will push my thinking on an upcoming exhibit curated by students enrolled in last semester’s “Antebellum America” class.

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