Researcher participates in debate: What is black cinema and why is there resistance to this art form?

Researcher Janaína Oliveira
Researcher Janaína Oliveira

Note from BW of Brazil: The Festival Latinidades is an annual event of nearly one week that highlights the experience of black women of Latin American and the Caribbean that takes place in Brazil’s capital city Brasília every year. It shines spotlight on talents and versatility of the feminine African Diaspora; scholars, intellectuals debate the position of black women and, now in its eighth edition, it is the largest black women’s festival in Latin America. Every year the event coincides with the July 25th celebration of the Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women’s Day. 

Promo for Festival Latinidades 2015
Promo for Festival Latinidades 2015

This year, once again, the event promised a number of important black women who are or are becoming the movers and shakers in their particular fields. This year, one of the main themes is the question of black cinema, what it is, its history and its current state.It is clearly a field in which black women must continue to demand their inclusion as we have seen that their participation in the genre remains absurdly small, particularly in BrazilBelow we bring you one of the women that will shine in the spotlight in this year’s edition of the festival. 

Festival Latinidades: Researcher Janaina Oliveira gives panorama of black cinema

She is one of the participants in the debate table ‘Afinal, o que é cinema negro?’ (After all, what is black cinema?), of the event which starts on Wednesday (July 22nd) and ends on the 26th, with free admission, at Cine Brasília (106/107 South)

 by Adriana Izel

“People still have difficulty seeing black actors and actresses escaping the poverty of stereotypes, banditry … It’s necessary to work on this deconstruction,” said Janaína Oliveira

The Festival Latinidades — Festival da Mulher Afro-Latino-Americana e Caribenha  (Latinidades Festival – Festival of Afro-Latin American and Caribbean Women) – discusses, on Wednesday (22nd), black cinema – which is the theme of the eighth edition – in the round table debate, ‘Afinal, o que é cinema negro?’, is scheduled for 3pm at Cine Brasilia (106/107 South).

The space will feature the presence of Janaína Oliveira, coordinator of the Fórum Itinerante de Cinema Negro (Ficine or Itinerant Forum of Black Cinema); Larissa Fulana de Tal, creator of the collective of black film Tela Preta (Black Screen); and the American Kathleen McGhee Anderson, writer of TV series and movies. The table will have the mediation of Ceiça Ferreira.

The idea is to discuss what black cinema is and give an historical overview. According to Janaína Oliveira, one of the table’s participants, it is important to understand the issue of black cinema and the difficulty that still exists in the public relating to an audiovisual with racial themes. “Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to find resistance. People say that there is no racism, but racism is reaffirmed in the field of cinema,” she says.

To Correio (news site), Janaína spoke of some topics that should be discussed at the table next to Larissa and Kathleen, besides speaking about issues related to the questions of the Movimento Negro (black movement). Check out interview with the history teacher and researcher on the subject.

How did it happen that you were invited to participate in the Festival Latinidades?

I knew about the festival, but, this time of year, it always coincides with several conferences and I had never had the opportunity to participate. The organization invited me because of the theme. I will participate in a table on Wednesday and mediate other festivals on Thursday (Meetings, exhibitions and festivals: diffusion of black and African film production/audiovisual).

What can be advanced at the table ‘Afinal, o que é cinema negro?’

As a researcher, my role is a little of giving the public some idea of ​​what we’re talking about and offer my vision in those seven years, in which I did black cinema as a formal object of research. I want to explain what black and African cinema is and provide a historical overview. It’s necessary to understand the history to understand the issue. People find it difficult to relate to the racial theme. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find resistance. People say that there is no racism, but racism is reaffirmed in the field of cinema.

Why there is still such resistance to black cinema?

It is a reproduction of a social structure, so much so that it is hard to see black women occupying the spaces in the audiovisual, either as an actress, director, screenwriter up to the most technical areas. And what’s more difficult is the resistance to the theme because, in general, we have a Eurocentric education, in which all references are related to the colonizer. Imagine that there is a universal cinema, this that is produced, for example, in the United States and, whatever isn’t in this parameter is marginal. So people still have difficulty seeing black actors and actresses escaping the poverty of stereotypes, banditry … It’s necessary to work on this deconstruction and focus on the formation of an audience on several fronts. What is important to conceptualize is a field of political reflection, aesthetics and production of thought.

You are a one of the founding members of the Fórum Itinerante de Cinema Negro (Ficine or Itinerant Forum of Black Cinema Forum). What led you to create it?

Ficine was born the fruit of the affliction of an interest of some people who, like me, are willing to interfere in this field of the image of black cinema and give some collaboration. It emerged from a meeting with the researcher Janaina Damaceno and filmmaker César Cardoso. We began to articulate this proposal for a project to bring this discussion and concentrate this information somehow. We wanted to collaborate with initiatives that already existed, because it is necessary to consolidate a network. Today we have an online platform, which soon must change, but that has a precious database, largely made up of materials produced mainly about black cinema, African cinema and cinema of the diaspora. In addition to the digital dimension, we have the itinerant that has gone through some cities in Brazil and in Africa, where we take documentaries and encourage a dynamic discussion.

What made you start studying black cinema?

The first time I watched an African film was in the first edition of the Festival of Rio de Janeiro and I was very impacted. But the mark of this process was when Zózimo Bulbul (actor, film director and screenwriter that died in 2013) did the first meeting of black cinema in Rio de Janeiro, he brought African films and also the filmmakers. I began to see the  full length films of these meetings. The following year, in 2002, I watched him in an interview with (late night talk show host) Jô Soares, in which he spoke little of black cinema and that gave me agony. The next day, I saw an open edict and set up a research project on the invisibility of Afro-Brazilian productions.

Actor, director and filmmaker Zózimo Bulbul
Actor, director and filmmaker Zózimo Bulbul

What does this project deal with?

Negritude is a study that aims to get closer to this field and understand it. I began the project by interviewing the public in sessions to understand perceptions with the question “What do you understand by black cinema?”. Then I went to interview directors and researchers.

Flyer for the VII Encontro de Cinema Negro in Rio
Flyer for the VII Encontro de Cinema Negro in Rio

Finally, what is the black cinema for you?

It is an aesthetic field, of image and prospects. It’s a critical look at the market and the production that is done independently. Black cinema is hardly produced by major studios, which are dominated by an aesthetic that excludes and makes blacks inferior.

Source: Correio Braziliense

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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