LA Rebellion: Creating A New Black Cinema

LA Rebellion: Creating A New Black Cinema

The LA Rebellion Films at the Tate Modern runs from April 10 to 25 and consists of a crucial body of work in post-war cinema. Curated by George Clark, Assistant Curator, Film at Tate Modern, the series provides the first opportunity in the United Kingdom, to explore the result of an alternative Black cinema practice established by African and African American filmmakers, who emerged from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) between the 1960s and 1990s. It features work by pioneers such as Haile Gerima, Julie Dash, Billy Woodberry and Ben Caldwell, who championed counter-cultural and community-based approaches to filmmaking.

Of particular significance are Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977) and Haile Gerima’s Bush Mama (1975) recognized as some of the most important films of the 1970s that aptly capture life in the Black communities of Los Angeles, drawing on the dynamic social and political climate of the period. The films emerged from the context of the Black liberation and anti-Vietnam movements, and in solidarity with the international Third Cinema.

Other films re-work conventions of Hollywood cinema to reflect on the Black experience from the subtle dramas of Julie Dash to the explosive films of Jamaa Fanaka. Newly discovered masterpieces, from Larry Clark’s Passing Through (1977), one of the best jazz films ever made, to Billy Woodberry’s Bless Their Little Hearts (1984), a remarkable ensemble drama set in south central Los Angeles, have been restored and recognized as landmark films of the period.

Clark highlights significant socio-cultural developments in the Blacks in Los Angeles from the 1960s to 1990s by tracing links between cinema and the visual arts practice of the period, with the contribution of important community organizations.

“Filmmakers such as Ben Caldwell, Zeinabu Irene Davis, Bernard Nicolas and Barbara McCullough pioneered experimental approaches, bridging cinema and the visual arts of the time with strong links to community organizations such as Larry Clark’s Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles (PASLA) or Ben Caldwell’s KAOS Network. The defining achievements of this period are found not only in breakthrough feature films but in the many pioneering experimental works that anticipated later generations of artists working across media.”

Other events in the series include; Billy Woodberry: Bless Their Little Hearts; LA Rebellion Seminar; Barbara McCullough: Shopping Bag, Spirits and Freeway Fetishes; Larry Clark: Passing Through; Jamaa Fanaka: Welcome Home, Brother Charles; Haile Gerima: Harvest: 3,000 Years; and Julie Dash: Daughters of the Dust.


Ladun Ogidan is the Deputy Editor of Omenka magazine. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication from Covenant University, Nigeria. Ogidan is also Assistant Curator at the Omenka Gallery, and Chief Operating Officer at Revilo Company Limited, a leading art publishing company in Lagos. She has co-ordinated several exhibitions at home and abroad.

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