Black X: African Diaspora Experimental Film Series

Curated by Bill Jennings

This marathon intends to present the work of black filmmakers working in experimental film styles and establish a supportive and authenticating audience for the work. These rarely seen and compelling films represent an uncompromised and revolutionary commentary on the cinema and black identity.


Dialectic Dilation

Tocarra Thomas, 2009, 4 min.

A mesmerizing, formal abstraction based on the mechanics of human perception.


Rope Tricks

Tocarra Thomas, 2008, 4 min.

A beautifully filmed, but disturbing allegory about repression and self-liberation.


ReProgram: Episodes 1-10

Shani Peters, 21 min.

A group of 10 videos which unites characters from The Cosby Show and Good Times with members of the Black Panther Party. The sitcom families, both icons of economic extremes within the black community, are inexplicably united as one family. These figures, both fictional and historical, interact in “episodes” that loosely relate to the Panthers’ Ten Point Program, which called attention to issues such as healthcare, housing, and police brutality.


Reckless Eyeballing

Christopher Harris, 2004, 14 min.

Taking its name from the Jim Crow-era of black criminals staring at white women, this hand-processed, optically-printed amalgam reframes desire by way of everything from D.W. Griffith to Foxy Brown and Angela Davis.



Ina Diane Archer, 2004, 3 min.

“RW” creates a dreamscape comprised of characters from American gangster movies, black musicals, and 1950’s era black women that questions the nature of racial identity.


Hattie McDaniel

Ina Diane Archer, 2002, 6 min.

A media collage meditating on the legacy and cultural meaning of the academy award winning actress Hattie McDaniel.


X – The Baby Cinema

Robert Banks, 1992, 4 min.

A media collage commentary on the legacy of Malcolm X and the commercialization of it through the film by Spike Lee.


MPG: Motion Picture Genocide

Robert Banks, 1997, 4 min.

A visually stunning, hand-painted, film collage responding to the violence toward women and people of color as depicted in the mainstream cinema.


The Fullness of Time

Cauleen Smith, 2008. 52 min.

In Smith's groundbreaking science fiction allegory, A “sister from another planet” is sent to earth to explore the terrain and learn our ways. In the process, she must make sense of the passage of time, the enormity of loss, and the new landscapes of New Orleans.



Panel Discussion with directors Cauleen Smith, Tocarra Thomas, Shani Peters, Ina Archer, Christopher Harris. Moderated by Bill Jennings, Professor Radio, Television, Film at Hofstra University.






(Introduction and Discussion TBA)


William Greaves, 1968. 75 min.

The first widely seen experimental film by a black artist, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One is a one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid. Director William Greaves presides over a beleaguered film crew in New York’s Central Park, leaving them to try to figure out what kind of movie they’re making. A couple enacts a break-up scenario over and over, a documentary crew films a crew filming the crew, locals wander casually into the frame: the project defies easy description. Yet this wildly innovative sixties counterculture landmark remains one of the most tightly focused and insightful movies ever made about making movies.

Cauleen Smith has received grants or fellowships from Rockefeller Inter-Cultural Media Arts Fellowship, the American Film Institute Independent Film and Videomaker Program, the National Black Programming Consortium, and a Western States Regional Fellowship, Artmatters, and Creative Capital. Smith was commissioned by Creative Time and Paul Chan to produce a video response to the city of New Orleans 2 years post-Katrina. The project, entitled, The Fullness of Time, premiered at The Kitchen and won the jury award for best film at the New Orleans International Film Festival. Smith is using the Creative Capital sponsorship to produce a series of digital videos that re- enact historical instances in which a traumatic human gesture of negation resembles earth sculpture or land arts projects from the early seventies. Her screenplay adaptation for the Martha Southgate novel, Third Girl From The Left is being produced by Washington Square Films, with George C. Wolfe attached to direct and Kerry Washington as executive producer. Smith is currently shooting an experimental psychogeographic film on Sun Ra, improvisation, and creative music in Chicago, IL. As a community building curatorial project for San Diego, Smith opened the Carousel Microcinema, a roving cinema space dedicated to the viewing and discussion of the moving image. The programs combine historical avant-garde and conceptual works with contemporary and emerging works ranging in genre from performance video to structuralist materialist filmmaking. Cauleen Smith’s short films are distributed by Canyon Cinema and Video Data bank. She is currently acting associate professor at the University of California San Diego in the department of Visual Arts.


Toccarra A. Holmes Thomas is a Brooklyn-based video artist and arts programmer, born in New Haven, Connecticut (and raised in Southwest Florida). Ms. Thomas received her B.A. in Anthropology and Film Studies at Smith College and her M.A. in Media Studies at New School University. A recipient of the Smithsonian Research Training Fellowship (2003) and the Mellon Mays undergraduate Fellowship (2004-2006), Ms. Thomas has researched and worked in examining cultural arts practices in various parts of the world, as well as serving as a interview facilitator for the popular oral history project, StoryCorps, before becoming the program coordinator at African Film Festival, Inc. (AFF). Currently, Ms. Thomas still holds her position at AFF and is also the founder and artistic director of the curated virtual multi-media exhibition space, Viral Mediaocracy.


Shani Peters is a New York based artist (born in Lansing, MI) focusing in video, collage, printmaking, and social practice public projects. Thematically, her work is based on cultural record keeping, social collectivity, generational connections, and a desire to make sense of the present through an analysis of the past. She has exhibited and/or screened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Lower East Side Printshop, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, Rush Arts Gallery, the International Print Center New York, and the Schomburg Center for Black Culture and Research. She has completed residencies at The Center for Book Arts, LMCC’s Swing Space, and the Lower Eastside Printship and is currently participating in the Bronx Museum’s 2010-11 Artist in the Marketplace program. In addition to personal and public art projects, she works as a teaching artist with various organizations including the Museum of Modern Art. Peters completed her B.A. at Michigan State University and her M.F.A. at The City College of New York.


Christopher Harris’ award-winning experimental films have explored post-industrial urban landscapes, black outlaws, the cosmic consequences of the sun’s collapse and a child’s nightlight. His work has screened at festivals, museums and cinematheques throughout North America and Europe including the International Film Festival Rotterdam (2005, 2008, 2010), the VIENNALE-Vienna International Film Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Leeds International Film Festival, the San Francisco Cinematheque and Rencontres Internationales Paris among others. His current projects include a set of four 16mm experimental films inspired by the work of contemporary African American writers. He is currently an Associate Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.


Ina Archer's multimedia works and films have been shown nationally including in Cinema Project's EXPANDED FRAMES: a celebration and examination of critical cinema in Portland, Oregon, "Cinema Remixed and Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970" at Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, GA., and The Contemporary Art Museum, Houston. Her awards include residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Blue Mountain Centers and Civitella Ranieri in Umbria, Italy. Ina was a Studio Artist in the Whitney Independent Study Program, a NYFA multidisciplinary Fellow, a 2005 Creative Capital grantee in film and video, and a 2010 nominee for the Anonymous Was A Woman award. Archer is adjunct faculty in Foundation at Parsons The New School for Design. She is a longtime member of New York Women in Film and Television's Women's Film Preservation Fund and a board member of IMAP, Independent Media Arts Preservation. She earned a BFA in Film/Video from RISD and a Master's in Cinema Studies at NYU focusing on race, preservation, early sound cinema and technology.


“Reconciling the desire to be included in a medium that seems determined and in fact built on exclusion; in my film and installation work, I use commercial cinema as material and appropriation and montage as strategies to negotiate the difficult relationship of marginalized people to cinema and media representations.” – Ina Archer

Robert Banks attended the Cleveland School of the Arts and has taught film at Cuyahoga Community College, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and Cleveland State University.

Bill Jennings is a filmmaker, screenwriter, and teacher living in New York City. He likes making narrative films of all genres and experimental films that are reflexive and communicative. Bill’s feature film Harlem Aria was the winner of audience awards for best picture at The Chicago International Film Festival, The Urbanworld Film Festival, The Pan African Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival as well as a special commendation from the Maryland Film Festival. It was the Centerpiece Selection of the National Black Arts Festival, an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and the Munich International Film Festival among others. Harlem Aria was distributed by Magnolia Pictures in the US and internationally including Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and France. His writing projects include an adaptation of the Victor Pelevin novel Buddha’s Little Finger for Intrinsic Value and Go East Productions of Moscow, Russia. The screenplay received the Berlin Medienboard Development Grant. Bill recently completed an experimental film triptych: Three Poems. He is currently working on another series of experimental films based on Haikus and an experimental narrative film: Spell. As a member of the Director's Guild of America, Bill worked as an Assistant Director on major studio films such as Clean Slate, Airheads, Beverly Hills Cop III, and Boomerang and television series including Saturday Night Live, The Cosby Mysteries, Central Park West, New York Undercover, Prince Street and Dellaventura. Bill is an Assistant Professor of Radio, Television, Film at Hofstra University, School of Communication where he is the Co-Director of the acclaimed Documenting Diversity Program, which the University established in 2006.