Cinematic Conspiracies: Gunn and Greenlee
"Jimmie Baldwin once said something to me he might not remember this but it was very important. I hope it was important to him but it never is. I said, "what is this. . . this whole thing?" because I was going crazy. He then says to me, "If you look at this as a conspiracy, you will understand it. You will understand everything. But if you see it as an accident, you will go nuts. But if you see it, then you can begin to break down the conspiracy. And then you will be able to build up a defense for yourself so that you can stay sane and carry on with your life." - Bill Gunn, An Interview with Clyde Taylor (1982)
In 1973 filmmakers Bill Gunn and Sam Greenlee would release what many claim to be two of the most important films in American cinema, Ganja & Hess and The Spook Who Sat by the Door. However, shortly after both releases the films were pulled out of theaters, Gunn was exiled from the studio system and Greenlee was monitored by the FBI. We will address the two filmmakers experience and the relevance of these films today.
Erin Christovale and Amir George curate an ongoing film program called Black Radical Imagination, a touring program of visual shorts that delve into the worlds of new media, video art, and experimental narrative. Focusing on new stories within the diaspora, each artist contributes their own vision about post-modern society through the state of current black culture. An artistic movement and school of thought, Black Radical Imagination focuses on the aesthetics of afro-futurism, afro-surrealism, and the magnificent through the context of cinema.
Erin Christovale is a curator based in Los Angeles focusing on film/video within the African Diaspora. Her most recent exhibition, a/wake in the water: Meditations on Disaster was featured at the Museum of Contemporary Diasporan Art. She also works with a collective of creatives called Native Thinghood promoting emerging artists of color.
Amir George is a motion picture artist and film curator from Chicago. His video work and curated programs have been screened in festivals and galleries across the US, Canada, and Europe. In addition to founding The Cinema Culture, a grassroots film programming organization, Amir was founding programmer of Black Cinema House, a residential cinema space on Chicago’s south side. Amir currently teaches and produces media with youth throughout Chicagoland.