Black Cinema Shorts

Janiah B. Rorie

In the final installment of the Black Cinema 2022 series, we have four short films by three directors, Jacqueline Shearer, Alile Sharon Larkin, and Fronza Woods. These women contributed to the filmmaking industry in various ways beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, creating short films and documentaries that highlighted the African American experience with primary focus on the experiences of African American women. The shorts Killing Time/Fannies Film (Woods), Your Children Come Back to You (Larkin), and A Minor Altercation (Shearer) give viewers some understanding of these experiences and tackle subjects surrounding the intersections of racial identity, gender, and class which prompts my overall five slash rating.

Starting with Killing Time/Fannies Film, I would give the two shorts the same slash ratings of five slashes. Even though Woods kept both shorts very much simple and to the point I felt connected to them more than the films by the other two directors, not because those films were any less interesting or entertaining but the themes in Woods’ shorts were not stereotypical or what would be expected for the time in my opinion. With Killing Time specifically and its dark, yet humorous subject matter, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued the most. Fannies Film reminded me of sitting and having conversations with older relatives which I found to be heartwarming as well as saddening because many of the relatives I have had conversations like Fannie Drayton’s with the interviewer have passed away.

For Your Children Come Back to You, I can honestly say I have various grievances with the film that impact my individual slash rating for it. I would give this film four slashes primarily for the visual aspects because the content of the film itself is based around varying negative stereotypes which was disappointing. Content wise, the aspects of the film I did like were that viewers are able to get perspective from the child in the film on topics like social inequality, wealth, and class. One fact I learned watching this film is that the child, who is played by Angela Burnett is the daughter of filmmaker Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep) who is credited for cinematography and editing for Your Children Come Back to You which I found interesting.

The final short film is A Minor Altercation (Shearer) which I disliked the most out of the four shorts. It was hard for me to understand what exactly the intentions of the film were supposed to be. The film bluntly explores topics of race and discrimination with themes related to school desegregation. I mainly felt more uncomfortable with how the film ended rather than with the subject matter. There was not any clear resolve to the literal or hypothetical conflicts within the film and I would like to know more about why that is, or if there was any reason Shearer chose to set up the plot of the film in the way that she did. I would give this film an individual rating of three slashes.

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