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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 08 March 2006

Although the Cascade Festival of African Films has officially wrapped up its annual run, the festival is co-presenting a special screening of short films by African American women filmmakers.

"Four Films by African American Women 1979-1992" is set for 7:30 p.m. March 10 in Terrell Hall, Room 122, at Portland Community College's Cascade Campus, 705 N. Killingsworth St. A $7 donation is suggested.

As its title implies, the event features the work of four different African American directors, including:
• Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (By Kelly Gabron)
By Cauleen Smith (1992, 13 mins.)

"Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (By Kelly Gabron) is less a depiction of 'reality' than an exploration of the implications of the mediation of Black history by film, television, magazines and newspapers," writes critic Scott MacDonald.

"Using her alter ego, Kelly Gabron, Cauleen Smith fabricates a personal history of her emergence as an artist from White male-dominated American history (and American film history). Smith collages images and bits of text from a scrapbook by 'Kelly Gabron' that had been completed before the film was begun, and provides female narration by 'Kelly Gabron' that, slowly but surely, makes itself felt over the male narration about 'Kelly Gabron.'

"The film's barrage of image, text and voice is repeated twice and is followed by a coda. That most viewers see the second presentation of the imagery differently from the original presentation demonstrates one problem with trusting any media representation."

• Cycles
By Zeinabu Irene Davis (1989, 17 mins.)

"Rasheeda Allen is waiting for her period, a state of anticipation familiar to all women," says the Women Make Movies catalogue. "Drawing on Caribbean folklore, this exuberant experimental drama uses animation and live action to discover a film language unique to African American women.

"The multilayered soundtrack combines a chorus of women's voices with the music of Africa and the Diaspora, including Miriam Makeba, a cappella singers from Haiti and trumpetiste Clora Bryant."

• Killing Time and Fannie's Film
By Fronza Woods (1979/1981, 9 mins. & 15 mins.)

"Part of the media-making movement that first gave centrality to the voices and experiences of African American women during the late '70s and early '80s, these two re-releases are no less groundbreaking today," says the Women Make Movies catalogue.

"Killing Time, an offbeat, wryly humorous look at the dilemma of a would-be suicide unable to find the right outfit to die in, examines the personal habits, socialization and complexities of life that keep us going.

"In Fannie's Film, a 65-year-old cleaning woman for a professional dancers' exercise studio performs her job while telling us in voiceover about her life, hopes, goals and feelings. A challenge to mainstream media's ongoing stereotypes of women of color who earn their living as domestic workers, this seemingly simple documentary achieves a quiet revolution: the expressive portrait of a fully realized individual."

• Picking Tribes
By S. Pearl Sharp (a.k.a. Saundra Sharp, 1988, 7 mins.)

"In a heartfelt, and often hilarious, attempt to be more than 'ordinary,' a girl growing up in the 1940s tries to choose between her African American and Native American heritages," says the Women Make Movies catalogue.

"As a child, she is inspired to 'lay claim to my one-quarter Indian blood' because of the track record of the Cleveland Indians baseball team and the 'bad PR Negroes were suffering.'

"She puts feathers in her hair, pretends her name means Gentle Starlight, and dreams of becoming the first Native American drum majorette. When she becomes a young woman, she is surrounded by images of the civil rights movement andAfricanpride. Suddenly, 'Indians are out and Mother Africa is in!'

"She grows her hair, takes African dance classes and sports tribal dress. When a teacher tells her what tribe he believes she's from, she runs right to the library to make sure it really exists. 'Finally', she says, 'I belong!' It is only when her beloved grandfather dies that she is able to reconcile the power of both her heritages and realizes her own uniqueness."

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