MacDowell Downtown: Experimental documentarians to share their work tonight

  • Filmmakers, Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan will screen their award winning short film, ‘A Love Song for Latasha’ during MacDowell Downtown at Bass Hall on Friday. Photo by Lishan AZ

Published: 9/6/2019 11:51:06 AM

As collaborating filmmakers, Sophia Nahli Allison and Janice Duncan are experimental documentarians who explore the cultural meanings of dance and flight as spiritual tools of liberation. The two first-time MacDowell Fellows will share their work Friday evening at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture starting at 7:30 p.m. To help frame their current project, they will screen their award winning short film, “A Love Song for Latasha”. Currently on the festival circuit after having premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, “Love Song” reimagines the life of Latasha Harlins, the teenager killed by a Korean merchant in a South Central grocery store just two weeks after the beating of Rodney King. Latasha’s death is widely viewed as a leading catalyst of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots.

Duncan and Allison interviewed Latasha’s best friend and a cousin, gaining insight beyond the national news coverage at the time. The filmmakers reconstruct the past and conjure a different narrative arc for a life previously known only for its tragic end.

“We are looking at archival practices, reimagining historical narration, investigating how they are acquired and stored to ensure communities of color are a part of the archiving practice.” They added, “through the reclaiming and re-envisioning of these archives, we are challenging a system that has historically prevented black women and girls from having agency over their narrative and public image.”

Duncan, who earned her M.F.A. in film and TV production from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and B.A. in film and media studies from Johns Hopkins University, explains that their MacDowell project will use video, photography, and the written word to “reinforce the importance of telling your own stories.” She added that it, “Looks at reimaging what might have been placed in the archive. We’re looking at experimental ways that make archival work accessible to the nuanced histories of people of color.”

Duncan and Allison – who earned her M.A. in visual communication at University of North Carolina and her B.A. in photojournalism at Columbia College in Chicago – are digging deeper into the concept of archive in the new project. While at MacDowell, they will both be working out how the project will incorporate and challenge interactivity. Duncan will be shooting some video incorporating choreography she is developing, while Allison will be working on a series of “levitation photos.” There’s an essay component as well, something Duncan reports she’s already made great progress on in her first week at MacDowell.

Don’t miss this edition of MacDowell Downtown offering a fascinating experimental documentary film and stories of the African diaspora so relevant for the times we live in. It all happens at The Monadnock Center for History & Culture Friday evening, Sept. 6. Doors open at 7 p.m. with light refreshments served.


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