What's On? 13.04.17
Black cinema is not something I know much about, and that's including Afro-American; by 'black' I'm not sure what I mean, except I guess cinema within a subculture, defined by a particular, disempowered ethnicity, the one I know as 'black,' especially relating to America. Is there just one 'black' cinema? Or do I see the colour and put all black experience together? Was Moonlight 'black' cinema, in its depiction of black lives in the USA? I think it was, though it also played with stereotypes of black experience – especially black masculinities – that I imagined, of the ghettoized lives and the suggestion of violence. It's a world I feel distant from, the one in Moonlight. I wonder what that means about me and to me.
Briefly tangentially: is there 'trans' cinema? The Danish Girl was a white, heteronormative imagining of what it's like to be trans, and it was awful. Tangerine, also made in 2015, was about an underclass life for two Afro-American transgender women, was funny and poignant, and a different world away from both The Danish Girl, and my world as a Welsh middle-class transwoman. I conclude: there is trans cinema, but you need to be aware you're watching – in a single film – a slice of life or a distortion that has to fit the genre and the timeframe of a two-hour movie. Can any film show what it is to be trans? That lifelong experience of desire and repression, in cycles, over and over, and finally transition, with its own cycles of frustration and more frustration. Can cinema show anything as a reflection of 'how it is'?
Back to my reflection. I am going to watch I Am Not Your Negro this weekend. I know it engages head on with ideas of identity, black identity in the US but also in general. It's as much as I know, and the more I'm writing this, the more excitement and anticipation I feel, as I'm reminding myself there is so much diversity within a genre, and I'm about to step through the rainbow into an experience I seldom take, away from my staple of big-budget action movies of a Hollywood style. Instead, a slice of black cinema but uniquely something itself at the same time.