Director Issac Julien in Person
October 3 (Thursday) 7 pm
Directed by Isaac Julien
US/UK 2002, video, color, 56 min.
Blaxploitation movies took their cue from the civil rights and Black Power movements—casting black actors for the first time in starring roles, as heroes instead of victims—and drew larger African American audiences than any others before or since. Yet they have long been relegated to the category of “exploitation” and thus excluded from the canon of cinema history. A bold re-examination of this position, BaadAsssss Cinema combines archival material with footage from black action films such as Coffy, Blacula, Superfly, Foxy Brown, Shaft, and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song to argue that blaxploitation films were in fact complex reactions to social conditions and inequities of the era—works that reveled in the ridiculous and gave relief from rage with powerful imagery and humor.
Isaac Julien is Visting Lecturer on African American Studies and on Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard. Trained at the St. Martin’s School of Art in London, he was a founding member of the Sankofa Film/Video Collective, which addressed significant issues of race and representation in the 1980s. His lyrical portraitLooking for Langston (1989), on the American poet Langston Hughes, received international acclaim and led to a series of similarly regarded works in fiction and nonfiction. Most recently, Julien has been working in the medium of film and video installation for the gallery. Last year, he was a nominee for the prestigious Turner Prize for artistic accomplishment in Britain.