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Trailer Watch: Kathleen Collins’ 1982 Milestone in Black Film, Losing Ground

Lincoln Center’s vital series “Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986” kicks off today, including a week-long debut theatrical run of Kathleen Collins’ 1982 Losing Ground. Believed to be the first African-American woman to direct a feature film (1980’s The Cruz Brothers and Mrs. Molloy), Collins’ 1982 second and final feature has never received a regular theatrical run until now. The story of a philosophy professor (Sereh Scott) and her landscape painter husband (Ganja and Hess director Bill Gunn) in the middle of a transformative vacation in upstate New York, the film is described as a “nearly lost masterwork” by The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody. As he writes:

Though Collins was a civil-rights activist in the early sixties, she never even glances at practical politics in Losing Ground. Rather, she traces the private scars of history in artists’ lives and work, and that subject opens the film, via Sarah’s classroom lecture on the wartime origins of French existentialism. The passionate romance of mismatched equals, Sarah’s intellectual confidence, and even her identity shudder under unresolved conflicts of race and gender. In Collins’s vision, the life of a black person — in particular, of a black woman — is a perilous existential adventure.

The trailer’s above; detailed screening information is here.

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