Category Archives: Film

Caribbean Cinema Guest Lecture

After months of planning and preparation, I am very excited to announce a Guest Lecture on Caribbean Cinema by Dr Jean Antoine-Dunne of the University of the West Indies on 7 March!

The lecture is called ‘Signposts to a Caribbean Film Aesthetic’.

This special guest lecture, in English, will explore Caribbean cinema across a range of languages (English, French, Spanish and Dutch). There is a close link to my current research on Joseph Zobel, as Zobel’s best-known novel was adapted into the award-winning film Sugar Cane Alley by Martinican director Euzhan Palcy.

Dr Jean Antoine-Dunne is an established international expert on Caribbean Cinema – her lecture promises to a unique opportunity, and full details are available here.

The event has been made possible through the generous support of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of London, with additional support from the University of Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law.

 

 

 

What academics do over the summer ‘holidays’

Le temps passe vite…!

Well, this post is a round-up of recent June-July activities, and another opportunity to set the record straight about what academics do during the summer ‘holiday’. Although the Undergraduate students have mostly left campus, the Postgraduates are still around and we continue to supervise them… and I have been so busy that I realise now that this blog is long due an update! So here goes:

I’ve been juggling a number of projects these last few weeks. Firstly, we brought our series of Francophone Postcolonial film screenings to a close with a public workshop reflecting on what we’d done. It was a chance to unpick the terms ‘francophone’ and ‘postcolonial’ with members of the general public, and we were delighted to have teachers and A Level students present, as well as others who are interested in some or all of the terms Francophone / Postcolonial / Film. This rounded off our film series with some very positive feedback and ideas for future developments!

Then it was off to York, to present at the inaugural AHRC Commons event, which brought together academics and organisations including charities, businesses and educational bodies to showcase and discuss how Arts & Humanities research contributes to bring about real world impact and societal change. My talk was a co-presentation called ‘When Mockingbird met French Studies…’ delivered with my collaborator at Mockingbird, an SME at Birmingham’s Custard Factory. We discussed our work together screening Francophone Postcolonial films to date, and in future, and shared advice and best practice on our experiences. We were thrilled to see that our fantastic image of the Mockingbird was chosen to head up the Collaborate section of the programme for the AHRC Commons: (see p.3).

Since then, I’ve been sequestered away and writing my book about Zobel, as well as supervising dissertation students, mentoring a postdoctoral researcher, supervising a postdoctoral Research Assistant, attending meetings and training courses, making preparations for a conference in the US in the autumn, advising potential future PhD students, preparing module paperwork, preparing bids for more work with non-academic partners… the list goes on…!

So all in all, it has been a very busy end to the academic year, and certainly not a ‘holiday’! The summer is the time when we push forward with lots of projects that are either in progress or in the pipeline! And it continues… but more about that next time!

 

Francophone Postcolonial Films & Free Workshop

Another busy few weeks – last week, my colleague Dr Claire Peters and I organised a free Francophone Postcolonial film screening of Sissako’s Heremakono, as part of Claire’s AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund activities.

Claire has blogged about it for the UoB website, and you can read more here:

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/lcahm/departments/languages/sections/french/news/2016/waiting-for-happiness.aspx

mockingbird all 3.jpg

We’re now gearing up for our final event, a workshop on Francophone Postcolonial Film to be held this Saturday at Mockingbird Theatre in the Custard Factory, Digbeth. Here are more details:

BOOK FREE TICKETS for Workshop on FRANCOPHONE POSTCOLONIAL FILM

Held: Sat 11th June between 10am – 12 noon Mockingbird Theatre, Custard Factory, Digbeth

Participants are welcome to leave after 12 noon, or to enjoy a free post-workshop lunch in the Mockingbird’s informal bistro (meat or veg. option available)

Structure:

This morning workshop offers an insight into cinema from other cultures. Together, we will explore some key terms and briefly discuss three important films that two Modern Languages researchers have recently shown to the Birmingham public: Sugar Cane Alley, Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask, and Waiting for Happiness.

No prior knowledge of the films is necessary!

Come and think about what these films and cultural questions mean to you, and share these thoughts in an informal and friendly setting, guided by researchers who work in these fields.

The workshop will be relevant to anyone with interests in ONE or MORE of these topics: Film, Postcolonial cultures (particularly Africa and the Caribbean), French & Francophone cultures.

The event has been generously funded by an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fellowship award.

*Places are limited, so please reserve you place now to avoid disappointment*

Book your free place here: http://www.designmynight.com/birmingham/bars/digbeth/the-mockingbird-theatre-and-bar/free-workshop-francophone-postcolonial-film

French Film Screenings…

It has been a busy end to the term! Once Easter is over, we’ll be straight into our examining and strategic planning phase. The post-Easter meetings are already stacking up, as are the research deadlines… but before then, there’s time to reflect on last week’s AHRC-supported free film screenings which took place as part of the University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival.

These events were free and arose from partnerships between the Modern Languages Department at the University of Birmingham and local arts and cultural organisations.

The events are led by my colleague Dr Claire Peters, a Teaching Fellow in French and Francophone Studies, who was awarded funding from the AHRC Cultural Engagement fund to carry them out. Claire recently completed an AHRC thesis on Francophone Postcolonial culture.

I’m her mentor, which is a very worthwhile experience for me and allows me to share lessons learned from my own public engagement events in the UK, metropolitan France and Martinique.

My AHRC Midlands3Cities PhD student Antonia Wimbush is also part of the team as an assistant at the events, as part of her own training in public engagement.

The screening of Sugar Cane Alley / Rue Cases-Nègres [dir. Euzhan Palcy, 1983] took place on Wednesday 16th March 2016 at 4-6.30pm MAC Birmingham. We knew that the afternoon timeslot might be tough, but as this event is part of a wider University of Birmingham Arts and Science Festival, we had limited choice over the timing. That said, being part of the Festival was a wonderful opportunity, and ensured that the event was widely publicised.

01 Antonia intro Sugar Cane Alley

Antonia did a great job of introducing the film (see photo above!), and afterwards Claire hosted a Q&A session with me on my own research into Zobel. I was delighted to have so many brilliant questions from the public, which included questions on adapting the novel into a film, Palcy’s career, Zobel’s wider works (and whether there were other film adaptations… not yet…!), the influence of Fanon and wider influences such as Negritude and the Harlem Renaissance. Our colleagues at the MAC had to politely but firmly eject us from the room at the end, as the next screening was due to begin!

The following night, Thursday 17th March 2016 from 7pm-9.30pm,  Claire gave a fantastic introduction to the film Black Skin, White Mask [dir. Isaac Julien, 1996] at The Drum. The film was followed by a lively comments session with the public audience, which gave rise to some excellent reflections on issues such as race, gender, identity, intersectionality and Negritude.03 drum audience

 

The overall feedback tells us that for many people in Birmingham, this was their first encounter with the French Caribbean, and that there is a real appetite for more Francophone events like this… so (shameless plug!) watch this space for the third screening in the series, which will take place in the cinema at The Mockingbird Theatre and Bar… more details to follow after Easter!

End of 2015 Round-Up

The Joseph Zobel centenary year is drawing to a close.

Looking back on the past 12 months, it is incredible to think of all the different activities that have taken place all over the world to celebrate the life and work of Joseph Zobel!

If you scroll down and click through the month-by-month archives for this blog, you’ll see spring activities such as March’s Paris Book Fair talks on Zobel where Roland Monpierre’s new graphic novel adaptation of Diab’-là was launched thanks to a crowd-funding initiative, with Patricia Thiéry’s excellent organisational skills…

… then it was on to April’s centenary events in Zobel’s place of birth, Rivière-Salée, in Martinique, and even me popping up on the Martinican evening news in May, and on ZoukTV with Raphaëlle Bouville, Frantz Edouard and Rodolf Etienne…

…in June and July, there are a couple of reports, including one published with the Guardian Higher Education Network website, about the discovery of a watercolour with a mystery link to Zobel at the British Library in London…

…followed by autumn or, as the Americans say, Fall, when I made an extended visit to Emory University, Atlanta. This was a chance to reflect on some of the continuities between the American Deep South and the Caribbean, and to give research talks about the laghia combat dance, as well as having great fun teaching La Rue Cases-Nègres to Undergraduates…

…then in November, three generations of Zobels – including Joseph’s daughter, Jenny, and granddaughter, Emily, organised a sell-out special filming of Rue Cases-Nègres at Leeds Town Hall… And I reflected on the role of French Caribbean soldiers in WW1 in Zobel’s works, and an event held earlier in the year at the Library of Birmingham…

Alongside all these activities, the traditional academic research continues, as I’ve been drafting conference papers and a book on the work of Joseph Zobel…

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the fantastic work achieved by so many different groups who came together to celebrate the author’s legacy. And as my Martinican colleagues have commented, now it’s time to think about our next moves – or, as they say in French, l’après-centenaire!

 

 

 

Sugar Cane Alley screening in Leeds this Sat

In today’s blog post, I’ve included excerpts from a blog post by Dr Emily Marshall, Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literature in the School of Cultural Studies at Leeds Beckett University, with Emily’s kind permission.

Emily and I first met by pure coincidence at a postcolonial literature conference in 2006 here in the UK. It’s a day I remember well, and it was such a pleasure to talk to Emily about her grandfather’s work! Through Emily, I met her mother Jenny, and I have been honoured to be their ‘virtual’ colleague throughout the centenary year – we’ve exchanged lots of emails and electronic messages to keep each other updated on our activities.

Emily and Jenny will give a special introduction before screening the film Sugar Cane Alley at Leeds Town Hall on Saturday night. I’m sure it will be a very special event! I’ve been tweeting details (@zobelproject) for a couple of weeks, and you can buy tickets here: http://www.leedsfilm.com/films/sugar-cane-alley/

In a blog post which originally appeared on the Leeds Beckett University “Media Centre” blog, Emily reflects on the forthcoming screening of a film based on her grandfather Joseph Zobel’s novel, La Rue Cases-Nègres.

Emily writes:

“It is a hundred years since the birth of my grandfather, Martinican writer Joseph Zobel. While celebrations and events (in the form of conferences, workshops, commissioned art pieces and museum exhibitions) have been taking place across France, the Francophone Caribbean and French-speaking West Africa, Joseph and his novels are less well known in the UK. I wanted to contribute to the international centenary celebrations here in Leeds with the screening of an exceptional film based on his most famous semi-autobiographical novel, La Rue Cases-Nègres (1950), translated as Black Shack Alley or Sugar Cane Alley.

Sugar Cane Alley (1983) was directed by Martinican-born Euzhan Palcy when she was just 25 years old. The film won the Silver Lion award for Best First Film at the 1983 Venice International Film Festival and a César Award for Best First Feature Film in France. Palcy went on to become the first black female director of a Hollywood film for A Dry White Season (1989). With the support of the Center for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett University, I worked in partnership with event organiser and film programmer for Leeds Film Festival, Laura Ager, to organise the screening. We also submitted a successful bid for the screening to be added to the ‘Being Human National Festival of the Humanities’ calendar of events.

I have only recently introduced Joseph’s novel, Black Shack Alley, alongside Palcy’s film, to my students. We examined the text on my third-year ‘Literatures of the African Diaspora’ module at Leeds Beckett – I had long been worried that my relationship to Joseph would not allow me enough critical distance to analyse his work. I was surprised by how objective I could be and also by the many positive responses and insights from my students, who enabled me to look at the novel and film from a fresh perspecive.

I am very excited about the screening of Sugar Cane Alley in Leeds as part of Leeds Film Festival and I hope it will promote debates about the impact of colonialism and colonial education, resistance to oppression, Creole culture and the effects of Empire in the postcolonial world. I also hope it will raise awareness of the impact and relevance of film and narrative on reflecting on our shared histories and influencing the way we understand our past and visualise our futures.”

You can read Emily’s longer post here: http://mediacentre.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/post/a-caribbean-childhood-sugar-cane-alley-comes-to-leeds/

I’m excited to hear more about this really important event!