Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 7:30pm
Black Audio Film Collective's Twilight City
155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn
Introduced by Tobi Haslett
Twilight City, Black Audio Film Collective, 1989, digital projection, 52 mins
Olivia is a black British researcher living in London. During the day, she reads about the city’s stifled souls, the dead black and brown people whose rebellions, migrations, and unremunerated labor built the London she dreams of at night. Ten years ago, Olivia’s mother left England to return to Dominica—now she’d like to come back. But Olivia warns her in a letter: “The London you’ve left behind is disappearing, perhaps forever, and I don’t know if you will want to return to the new one.”
How to tell the story of a city? And what if that city has been lost? In the space of a few decades, London was bombed to ashes, ripped through by riots, and gutted by financialized capital, all while old empires crumbled and a new one broke forth. Twilight City—one of only two Black Audio Film Collective productions directed by Reece Auguiste and the group's second essay film after the jarring, brilliant Handsworth Songs—gives us a new history of London, recounted in tones both plaintive and furious.
Olivia’s letters to her mother don’t simply report: They mourn, they dilate, they fight back. The gentrification of the city by the banking class provides the backdrop for this exercise in wistfulness, as the old, oppressive order gives way to ingenious new ways to punish and exploit. And we see feminist intellectuals, queer activists, and scholars of empire—Paul Gilroy, Homi Bhabha, Gail Lewis, Femi Otitoju, George Shire—step out from behind their towering reputations to confess their changing feelings about the city, the ways it seduces and eludes them.
Twilight City—with its letters, its digressions, its archival footage, its melancholia, even its title—demands to be thought of alongside Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil. But this film doesn’t imitate Marker’s work so much as deliver on its opening promise: “If they don’t see happiness in the picture, at least they’ll see the black.”
Tobi Haslett is a writer living in New York.
Tickets - $8, available at door.
Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.