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The LA rebellion: when black film-makers took on the world – and won

by Ashley Clark.


‘It wasn’t trendy,” says Julie Dash down the line from South Carolina. “We were the broke nerds wearing $2 jelly shoes because we put all our money into film-making.” She chuckles, warm and husky. In the late 60s and early 70s, Dash was a key member of the UCLA movement that spawned a host of pioneering African-American and African film-makers. This group and its work was dubbed the “LA rebellion” in 1986 by cultural historian Clyde Taylor – a label that stuck so firmly, Tate Modern has seen fit to use it for its retrospective on new black cinema.

The Rebellion flourished on rocky ground. In the wake of the Watts riots of 1965 – and the unrest that followed the 1969 shoot-out on the UCLA campus – several students persuaded the university to launch an ethnographic studies programme responsive to local communities of colour. The films that followed, by the likes of Dash and Charles Burnett, came out of a consciousness of anti-Vietnam and black-lib struggles, and were forged in solidarity with anti-colonial movements from around the world, such as Brazil’s Cinema Novo and the Argentinian Grupo Cine Liberación. The irony was, of course, that this hotbed of unorthodox movie-making was situated 15 miles from Hollywood’s dream factory – the “belly of the beast”, as Dash dubs it.

Read the rest of this article from The Guardian.

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