In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary series of films on the African diaspora. These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. Together as the Diaspora Suite, the five films, all shot on 16mm are poetic examinations of place and time. Through imaginative juxtaposition of geographies, non-sync sound and exquisite visual rhythms, Asili proposes an aesthetics of diasporic time, where movements, bodies and cultures speak across oceans, the present and the deep past.
Where Forged Ways oscillates between Harlem and Ethiopia and chronicles a man navigating day to day life from city to village, American Hunger juxtaposes a street festival in Philadelphia, slave forts in Ghana and the New Jersey shore to explore the relationship between personal experience and collective history. In Many Thousand Gone, Asili parallels Salvador, Brazil, the last city in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery with Harlem, NY, accompanied by an improvised score by Joe McPhee. Kindah, shot in Hudson, NY and Accompong, Jamaica traces the legacy of rebel slaves and their descendants, and Fluid Frontiers explores the relationship between concepts of resistance and liberation, exemplified by the Underground Railroad, Broadside Press, and artworks of Detroit artists.
Q&A with Ephraim Asili will follow the screening.
• Forged Ways (Ephraim Asili, 2011, 15 min, US)
• American Hunger (Ephraim Asili, 2013, 19 min, US)
• Many Thousands Gone (Ephraim Asili, 2015, 8 min, US)
• Kindah (Ephraim Asili, 2016, 12 min, US)
• Fluid Frontiers (Ephraim Asili, 2017, 23 min, US)
TRT: 77 min
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Special thanks to Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.