Black Earth Film Series: Kahlil Joseph, Onye Anyanwu, and Bradford Young

Mar 22, 2022, 6:00 pm8:00 pm
James Stewart Film Theater, 185 Nassau St.



Event Description

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts presents the final two events in the Black Earth Film Series organized by Princeton professor Deana Lawson in collaboration with Visiting Professor Tina Campt. The first event, on Tuesday, March 22 at 6:00 p.m., will feature a conversation with filmmakers Kahlil Joseph, Onye Anyanwu, and Bradford Young with Lawson and Campt. The second event, on Tuesday, March 29 at 6:00 p.m., will include a screening of John Akomfrah’s The Call of Mist (Redux) (2012) and Handsworth Songs (1986) followed by a virtual Q&A with the filmmaker. Both events will be held in the James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street and are free and open to the public. Advance tickets are required through University Ticketing. Guests are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to the maximum extent, which now includes a COVID booster for all those eligible to receive it, and to wear a mask when indoors. Speakers may be unmasked when presenting. The venue is wheelchair accessible. Audience members in need of access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at [email protected] at least one week prior to the event date.

The March 22 event will begin with showings of BLKNWS (2019) and REkOGNIZE (2012). Exploring film as a powerful collective experience that can be manipulated through its essential visual and audio components, BLKNWS reflects upon the contemporary period through samples of popular culture, archival material, and filmed news desk segments that expose the glaring underdevelopment of the news media format through a distinctly Black lens. Joseph classifies his film genre as fugitive broadcasting: BLKNWS presents an uninterrupted stream of highly curated found footage, originally produced segments, and current and historical news clips in a two-channel format that resists reactive narratives in favor of free-flowing knowledge association. Conceived by Joseph as a conceptual post-media company operating as a work of art, BLKNWS is held in collections of fine art museums around the world while actively collaborating with Harvard University and The Vinyl Factory in print and media. In 2019, Joseph received a VIA Production Acquisition Grant to support the international debut of BLKNWS at the 58th Venice Biennale. BLKNWS was incubated at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University through roundtable discussions with faculty, staff, and students as part of Joseph’s 2018-2019 Presidential Residency on the Future of Arts. The work premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontiers program in conjunction with limited screenings at 12 art house theaters nationwide, including New York’s IFC Center. BLKNWS was a cornerstone project of the fifth iteration of the Hammer Museum’s biennial exhibition Made in LA 2020: a version, installed at both the Hammer and satellite broadcasts in predominantly Black-owned businesses and civic centers throughout Los Angeles.

REkOGNIZE (2012) is a three-channel video installation and a meditation on photography, memory, and movement. The film features artist and academy award-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young’s footage of Pittsburgh’s Hill District, tunnels, and translations of several Charles “Teenie” Harris photographs into matrices of metadata; the Hill District was a site of the early 20th-century Great Migration. During this time, millions of African Americans moved from the rural southern United States to cities in the north and west. The Hill District saw a flourishing of culture during these years and was a site of artistic development for luminaries such as August Wilson, Charles “Teenie” Harris, Errol Garner, and many others. REkOGNIZE takes its visual cues from the Pittsburgh landscape, especially the city’s tunnels, which serve not only as literal entry points into the city but also as metaphors for this movement of people and culture. Young’s interdisciplinary approach to Harris’s images asks us to reflect on the power of photographs from the past to inspire work today. In doing so, they blur the boundaries between still and moving image, analog and digital, and visual and auditory experiences.

A Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker, Kahlil Joseph is best known for his large-scale video installations. In 2016, he was nominated for an Emmy award for his co-direction of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. He is a recipient of a 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, a 2017 Los Angeles Artadia Award, and a 2020 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts for Film & Video. The New Yorker describes Joseph as “a creator of intellectually and emotionally dense films showcasing black excellence, strangeness, and history.” In addition to his personal practice, Joseph serves as the artistic director of The Underground Museum, a pioneering independent art museum, exhibition space and community hub in Los Angeles that he co-founded with his sister-in-law, Karon Davis, and his late brother, artist and curator Noah Davis.

Onye Anyanwu is currently producing an untitled BLKNWS feature film with A24 and Participant Media, which is an expansion of the ongoing project conceived by husband and creative partner Kahlil Joseph. Anyanwu’s work weaves through the avant-garde and the everyday to expand the boundaries of narrative and experimental filmmaking. She began her career in New York City as a casting director working with directors such as Mark Romanek and Paul Hunter. She is co-founder of Gamma Wave Films, a Los Angeles-based film and fine art production company that has collaborated with artists including Arthur Jafa, FKA twigs, Sampha, and Kendrick Lamar. Since the inception of Gamma Wave Films, Anyanwu has produced genre-defying artworks that are held in collections of art museums and institutions around the world. She is also a founding member of The Underground Museum.

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Bradford Young is a cinematographer and visual artist who most recently worked with Ava DuVernay on When They See Us and Selma, for which Young was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography in a Motion Picture. Young has also worked with Denis Villeneuve on Arrival, for which he received nominations for an Academy Award and a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for achievement in cinematography, as well as with Ron Howard on Solo: A Star Wars Story, and JC Chandor on A Most Violent Year. Young’s work on David Lowrey’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George earned two Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition Excellence in Cinematography awards in 2013. Young’s other films include Dee Rees’ Pariah, for which he won the 2011 Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition Excellence in Cinematography award, DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere; Tina Mabry’s Mississippi Damned; Paola Mendoza’s Entre Nos; and Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City. Additionally, Young is a co-founder and CEO of TRIBE 7, a film optics company specializing in customizable lenses and color science for film production.

Event Type
Art and Culture


PLEASE NOTE: Photographs and recordings taken at Department of African American Studies events by anyone authorized by Princeton University may be used in publications, both electronic and print, at the discretion of the University and the Department of African American Studies.

Any individual, including visitors to campus, who requires accommodation should contact Dionne Worthy ([email protected]) at least one week in advance of the event.