Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts 2023

Symposium Schedule

Note: Please check back as further details to be added.

The Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts, 2023

The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, The University of Chicago

Thursday, March 2
57pm Welcome reception
Terrace Seminar Room: Logan 801

7pm Screening: Interior Lives
Screening Room: Logan 201

S. Pearl Sharp, Back Inside Herself (1984, 4 min)
Zeinabu irene Davis, Cycles (1989, 17 min)
Fronza Woods, Killing Time (1979, 9 min)
Aarin Burch, Spin Cycle (1989, 5 min) & Dreams of Passion (1989, 5 min)
Cauleen Smith, Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (1989, 6 min)
Yvonne Welbon, Monique (1991, 3 min)
Melvonna Ballenger, Rain (Nyesha) (1978, 15 min)
Q&A with filmmakers moderated by Yvonne Welbon following the screening.

This final program in the 9week screening series Creating a Different Image: Black Women’s Filmmaking of the 1970s90s, foregrounds Black female interiority. S. Pearl Sharp’s Back Inside Herself (1984) is a visual poem on identity and the assertion of a sense of self, starring the magnetic Barbara O. Jones. In Zeinabu irene Davis’s Cycles (1989), a young woman performs Africanbased purification rituals as she awaits her period. Visually experimental, especially in its use of stopmotion sequences, the film also features music from throughout the African diaspora, resulting in a unique film language that honors African American women. Melvonna Ballenger’s Rain (Nyesha) (1978), set to a soulful John Coltrane soundtrack, traces the political awakening of one woman. Fronza Woods first short film Killing Time (1979), in which she also stars, is an offbeat, wryly humorous look at the dilemma of a wouldbe suicide unable to find the right outfit to die in. Aarin Burch’s Dreams of Passion (1989), set in a dance studio, explores desire between two Black women; Spin Cycle (1989) takes an autobiographical look at Burch’s own love affairs and filmmaking aspirations. Yvonne Welbon’s short film Monique (1991) muses on memory. Reflecting on a childhood experience of racism, Welbon considers how racism is deeply ingrained in the fabric of society, pervasive enough to even inflect or infect children’s play. Cauleen Smith’s Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron) (1989) is a collage of voices, images, and scrolling text that acts as a meditation on Black history and its portrayal in media.

Friday, March 3
8:3010:30am Closed Session for Invited Participants
Performance Penthouse (Logan 901)

11am Welcome by Organizers & Keynote by Michele Wallace
Screening Room (Logan 201)

Lunch BreakLunch will be provided for all invited participants.

1:30pm Roundtable Conversation: Remembering the Sojourner Truth Festival 1976
Screening Room (Logan 201)

3:15pm Roundtable Conversation: The 1970s Black Arts Scene
Screening Room (Logan 201)

5pm I am Somebody (Madeline Anderson, 1970, 30)

I am Somebody chronicles the efforts of Black women hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina to gain union recognition and a wage increase, up against the oppressive forces of state government and the National Guard. A key document in the struggle for labor rights, I am Somebody is one of the earliest films to demonstrate the connection between Black womens labor struggles and the fight for civil rights. The film was named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2019.

5:30pm Special Tribute to Madeline Anderson 
Screening Room (Logan 201)

67:30pm Dinner Reception for invited participants and guests
Performance Penthouse (Logan 901)

7:30pm Alma’s Rainbow (Ayoka Chenzira, 1984, 85’) and postscreening Q&A with Ayoka Chenzira moderated by Samantha N. Sheppard
Screening Room (Logan 201)

A comingofage comedydrama about three African American women living in Brooklyn, Alma’s Rainbow explores the life of teenager Rainbow Gold (Victoria Gabrielle Platt) as she enters womanhood and navigates standards of beauty, selfimage, and the rights women have over their bodies. Rainbow attends a strict parochial school, studies dance, and lives with her straitlaced mother Alma (Kim WestonMoran), who runs a hair salon in the parlor of their home and disapproves of her daughter’s newfound interest in boys. When Alma’s freespirited sister Ruby (Mizan Kirby) returns from Paris after a tenyear absence, the sisters clash over what constitutes the “proper” direction for Rainbow’s life. Alma’s Rainbow highlights a multilayered Black women’s world where the characters live, love, and wrestle with what it means to exert and exercise their agency.

Saturday, March 4
9am Welcome & Roundtable Conversation: Histories & Futures of Black Women’s Filmmaking
Logan Center Performance Hall

11:15am Keynote conversation: Julie Dash and Barbara McCullough
Logan Center Performance Hall

Lunch BreakLunch will be provided for all invited participants.

1:30pm Poetry Readings & Roundtable Conversation: Literary & Visual Crossings
Logan Center Performance Hall

3:15pm Roundtable Conversation: Black Film Feminisms & Memory Work
Logan Center Performance Hall

5:15pm Film Quarterly Roundtable
Screening Room (Logan 201)

7:00 PM Dinner Reception in Performance Penthouse for invited participants and guests
Performance Penthouse (Logan 901)


Sunday, March 5
Workshop on Archival Preservation for Filmmakers with Rachael Stoeltje, Director, Indiana University Moving Image Archive and the Black Film Center & Archive
Location TBA

Staged reading of Seret Scott’s play Footsoldier (2022)
Court Theatre

Footsoldier, a new play from acclaimed director Seret Scott (star of Losing Ground), is inspired by her mother’s experience as a civilian social worker with USAID, during the Vietnam War, as well as Scott’s experiences as an artistactivist in the Civil Rights Movement. Commissioned by the Court Theatre of the University of Chicago, the play grapples with historical and timely issues.

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