Indie Memphis’ Black Independence Film Series rolls out with ‘When I Get Home’

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Brianna A. Smith

In collaboration with Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Rhodes College and The Collective, Indie Memphis has introduced the Black Independence Film Series.

The Black Independence Film Series is a citywide celebration of the past, present, and the future of black independent films. The mini-film festival will showcase international films made by black directors in the past 50 years, by some of the world’s most significant black independent filmmakers.

A screening of Solange Knowles’ art film “When I Get Home” kicked off the series on Sept. 10 at The Brooks Museum of Art.

As a fan of the Knowles sisters (maybe you’ve heard of her sister Beyonce’) and their willingness to always create outside of the box material, I was extremely excited to be getting this firsthand look at Solange’s latest art film.

“When I Get Home” is an undeniable ode to Solange’s own hometown of Houston, Texas. A film meshing together 19 tracks of R&B, funk, jazz, hip hop, electronic, Zydeco and blues. She pays tribute to her roots in Houston by not only shooting the entire film there, but also by presenting a therapeutic and captivating moving-image scrapbook that flawlessly brings together the past and the future of her hometown.

I thought “When I Get Home” was the perfect film to start the film series off with because Solange is known for her afro-artsy creativity. I knew to expect an immaculate visual. Also, the film engages in the idea of belonging in a time when we are becoming increasingly disconnected from one another. It is definitely a deep think piece.

Following the 40-minute film, Indie Memphis curated a panel discussion titled “Finding Homes for New Forms in Filmmaking.”

As a filmmaker and a native Memphian, I was so excited to be in the room with like-minded individuals, discussing how Memphis could make use of our enriched art history and how we millennials can do more to showcase our city’s talent.

The panelists included James Dukes (IMAKEMADBEATS), Dindie Donelson (AIESHATHETEAPOT), Lawrence Matthews (Don Lifted), Telisu (TELISU) and was moderated by Victoria Jones (The Collective). They openly opined on Solange’s film, black artists working in fine art, film, and music, creating spaces for black artists, and Memphis’ influence on film and music.

“We have to be sure to own our narrative and protect our art,” said TELISU. “How did Memphis lose the name ‘The Music City?’ Where else on earth are there as many sounds and genres of music being created?”

The conversation was enlightening, uplifting, thought provoking and interesting. The audience was very proactive in dialogue with panelists who were very open and honest in their responses.

Matthews wondered whether Solange’s choice to screen “When I Get Home” in art spaces was catering to whiter audiences.

“I’m not sure of Solange’s purpose,” said Matthews, “but I wonder was this supposed to be like (Solange’s last album) — like, ‘I’m going to bring this very black thing to this very white space and attempt to expose them to it.’”

“Me personally, I no longer care to do that,” he continued. “There is really no reason why people shouldn’t know that black culture is here.”

It isn’t too late to attend one of the films and I strongly recommend it. The series runs through early October. Visit www.indiememphis.com for more information, as well as for movie titles, times, and places.