This screening brings together two films exploring the labours of filmmaking: Cheryl Dunye’s recently restored The Watermelon Woman (1996) and Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia’s I am Micro (2012).
In The Watermelon Woman, Cheryl (played by Dunye) is a twenty-something Black lesbian struggling to make a documentary about the beautiful and elusive 1930s actress popularly known as the Watermelon Woman. As she searches for the Watermelon Woman, twists and turns in Cheryl’s personal and professional life put love and friendship to the test.
The Watermelon Woman premiered in 1996 at the Berlin International Film Festival. This 2K restoration was made possible by First Run Features.
Shot in an abandoned optics factory in Kolkata, India, I am Micro explores the medium of film with essayistic attention to detail. Made on the cusp of filmmaking’s digital turn, I am Micro was processed in 2012, as sources of film and processing facilities were dwindling worldwide. Through visual and technical experimentation, Goel and Heredia depict the passion and energy of independent filmmaking in the face of adversity.
The Machine That Kills Bad People is, of course, the cinema – a medium that is so often and so visibly in service of a crushing status quo but which, in the right hands, is a fatal instrument of beauty, contestation, wonder, politics, poetry, new visions, testimonies, histories, dreams. It is also a film club devoted to showing work – ‘mainstream’ and experimental, known and unknown, historical and contemporary – that takes up this task. The group borrowed their name from the Roberto Rossellini film of the same title, and find inspiration in the eclectic juxtapositions of Amos Vogel’s groundbreaking New York film society Cinema 16. The Machine That Kills Bad People
is held bi-monthly in the ICA Cinema and is programmed by Erika Balsom, Beatrice Gibson, Maria Palacios Cruz and Ben Rivers.
The Watermelon Woman, Dir. Cheryl Dunye (1996), DCP (2K restoration), colour, sound, 90 min.
I am Micro, Dirs. Shumona Goel and Shai Heredia, 2012, 35 mm to SD video, b&w, sound, 14 min.