March 03, 2016 

By Danielle Cralle 

Staff Writer 

In the second installment of ARRAY’s series at The Broad, film collective screened the Hailie Gerima film “Ashes and Embers” at The RedKat Theatre on February 25.

 

“Ashes and Embers” is the story of Ned Charles, a Black Vietnam veteran and his post-war struggles in a racially charged America. Up until the Thursday screening at The Broad the film had never been shown in theatres.

 

“In war times African Americans get opportunities to dedicate their lives to America in order to be accepted,” Gerima said during a phone interview. “They return to a racial situation after giving their life. You don’t come back a hero, once you are used you’re discarded.”

 

It was those ideas that led Gerima to make the film, which was released in 1982.

 

“The history of Black people, the self-agency of their own liberation has always been abducted by white liberators,” he said.

 

A central force in the film is Charles’ grandmother, who discusses his culture and history with him, often putting his problems in proper context.

 

“His grandmother and the history she represents says, ‘Yes you are pained from going to the war but it’s not the end,’” Gerima said.

 

While in film school Gerima was part of the L.A. Rebellion film movement at UCLA. His peers included groundbreaking Black filmmakers such as Julie Dash and Charles Burnett (To Sleep With Anger), all of whom were recognized for making authentic movies about the Black experience, devoid of any stereotypes.

 

“Most of us were unhappy with the way people of color were dislocated in motion pictures,” Gerima said. “We were like furniture in mainstream cinema.”

 

The films that Gerima and his peers made were a response to the mainstream shutout that was often acutely felt.

 

“It was validating our discontent with how our humanity was being represented by the mainstream.”

 

Although many of these feelings still exist in Black Hollywood today, ARRAY is without a doubt Duvernay’s specific response.

 

“ARRAY is a grassroots collective that specializes in the distribution and amplification of films by women and people of color,” Duvernay shared.

Category: Arts & Culture



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