Celebrating black history through film

By Mikey Halligan

Managing & Visual Design Editor

The Vermont International Film Festival (VTIFF) along with the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival (MNFF) will be hosting their Split/Screen series on Feb. 19 to Feb 28.

Saint Michael’s College along with Middlebury College and Champlain College will be hosting the event which features 6 films directed by African American women as well as two separate recorded conversations with the directors Natasha NGaiza and Ashley O’Shay.

“As February is Black History month, sponsoring this month’s series felt like an important thing for the college to support”, said Alex Bertoni, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We hope that students, faculty and staff will take advantage of this opportunity to see and discuss these films.”

Split/Screen Monthly Passes are usually $40 but because of the school sponsorship, 250 students, faculty and staff will be able to view the event for free via a virtual screening site on both the VTIFF and MNFF websites.

  • VTIFF Now: watch.vtiff.org
  • MNFF Online: watch.midfilmfest.org 

The films that will be featured include:

  • LOSING GROUND by Kathleen Collins | 1982 | Fiction
    • One of the first movies directed by an African American woman. Sara Rogers (Seret Scott), a black professor of philosophy, is embarking on an intellectual quest to understand “ecstasy” just as her painter husband, Victor (Bill Gunn), sets off on a more earthy exploration of joy. Over the course of a summer idyll in upstate New York, the two each experience profound emotional and romantic awakenings. 

  • FAREWELL AMOR by Ekwa Msangi | 2020 | Fiction
    • After 17 years apart, Angolan immigrant Walter is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teen daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, they struggle to overcome the emotional distance between them.

  • ILLUSIONS by Julie Dash | 1982 | Short Film
    • The time is 1942, a year after Pearl Harbor; the place is National Studios, a fictitious Hollywood motion picture studio. Mignon Duprée, a Black woman studio executive who appears to be white and Ester Jeeter, an African American woman who is the singing voice for a white Hollywood star are forced to come to grips with a society that perpetuates false images as status quo.

  • BLACKOUT by Natasha NGaiza | 2013 | Short Film
    • A sudden power outage leads to an impromptu shadow performance that inspires an African immigrant to revisit the past and confront her marriage. Blackout explores the intricacies of transnational African identity, motherhood and memory.

  • A MOTHER by Natasha NGaiza | 2020 | Short Film
    • As a town copes with the disappearance of a little girl, a mother of two must come to terms with her own decision to abort an unexpected pregnancy.

  • UNAPOLOGETIC by Ashley O’Shay | 2020 | Documentary
    • captures tensions between a police board led by Lori Lightfoot (now Chicago Mayor) and abolitionist organizers at Chicago Police Department Headquarters in a polarizing moment in Chicago’s fight against racial injustice after the slaying by police of two Black Chicagoans – Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald.

For more information about the event, go to: https://vtiff.org/vtiff-now/splitscreen/