“Black Mother”—An Unconventional but Rewarding Film by Khalik Allah


Here is a post by Peter Jordens. As he mentions below, Black Mother—directed by Khalik Allah—will screen on April 18 and 19, 2018 at the Sarasota Film Festival and April 20 at Frames of Representation. [Also see previous post Interview with Khalik Allah: Black Mother.]

In a Q&A after a screening of his new 77-minute documentary Black Mother at the recent Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam (CIFFR), director Khalik Allah called Black Mother “a visual poem … a cinematic offering to those who want to accept it.” Black Mother is by all means an unconventional film that mainstream audiences will not easily grasp and accept. It is raw, eclectic, both political and spiritual, inviting viewers to reflect and rethink at deeper and deeper levels provided they have the patience to stick with the film to the very end.

Here is how the film is described on Allah’s website, http://www.khalikallah.com:

“Khalik Allah freely alternates between photography and cinema, traveling the streets, creating portraits that tremble with life. In Black Mother, Allah explores his mother’s home country, Jamaica, and invokes its beautiful, resilient, and rebellious spirit. Constructed out of a series of fleeting yet indelible interactions with the country’s residents, Black Mother is a dazzling audio-visual symphony that speaks to the island’s current state: its relationship with pain, outsiders, child rearing, colorism, sex work, nature, God. As he builds relationships with strangers, Allah reconnects with his grandfather William Case, whose wisdom and blessings are woven into the film’s intricate soundscape. Black Mother is rooted in deep-seated, ground-level observation, and yet it also reaches for the sky, offering prayers that rattle the soul with their compassion and conviction.”

Here are what some film reviewers have to say:

“Allah meshes personal experience and portraiture with myth and fantasy, religion and politics, to consider the exaltation and the degradation of women in Jamaican culture—and the very idea of black motherhood.” ― Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Maternity is both the guiding metaphor and one of the subjects of this lyrical, occasionally bombastic documentary essay […] the film offers a song of praise to the island of Jamaica and a reckoning with its painful history and hard-pressed present.” ― A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A brilliant meditation […] a challenging and profound deep-dive into Jamaican identity that rewards repeat viewings and confirms the aesthetic of a visionary filmmaker […] it’s oral history as art” ― Eric Kohn, Indie Wire

“A kind of documentary tone poem, a polyphonic work rich in atmosphere and intimate portraiture […] Black Mother affirms its maker as one of the great stylists in documentary cinema today.” ― The Museum of Modern Art (NY)

“A brilliant reconciliation of how to express the shared experience of a country and the individual perspectives of its diverse citizenry in an enthralling vision of Jamaica.” ― Stephen Saito, The Moveable Fest

“An aesthetic experience that’s at once raw, exalted, and singular” ― Christopher Gray, Slant magazine

Black Mother will screen next, on April 18 and 19, 2018 at the Sarasota Film Festival, https://www.sarasotafilmfestival.com, and April 20 at Frames of Representation, http://www.framesofrepresentation.com/the-festival-2018.


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