Category Archives: Cinema

Articles: Comvalius, Poitier and Washington

“What she also longs for: more ownership. More studying. More stories in which our pain doesn’t sound like an invitation to stand on the edge of our traumas, look deep into our wounds and there, with faces hanging over the Lake of Black Tears, fall in love with reflections of whiteness. More decolonial thinking Black playwrights, dramaturges, drama school teachers and critics.

In one of the letters published in her informal autobiography To Be Young, Gifted And Black, playwright Lorraine Hansberry writes: ‘I believe that we can impose beauty on our future.’ This imposing of beauty always reminds me of that which Chrisje Comvalius is the personification of and that what she urges those of us lucky enough to enjoy her view to always keep in mind: ‘Create and demand work that reflects our dignity.’”
Excerpt from my article about Afro-Dutch actress Chrisje Comvalius for Theaterkrant (Theatre newspaper). Published: June 27, 2022. This article is in Dutch.

Two birds in one night…” It’s March 24 2002, the evening that the institution we know as the Oscars stretched their credibility to such a maximum that they hád to grant Denzel Washington an Oscar. Denzel, titan. The absolute best who shines in every film. So absolutely, he was great in his role as detective Alonzo Harris. Nevertheless, it is only in the context of white comfort and the imagination it hijacks, that we can explain why he didn’t win the Oscar for Best Male Actor for his roles as al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, better known as Malcolm X, or Rubin ‘The Hurricane’ Carter, but specifically for Training Day.
What remains is the cliché question: “Who, here in the Netherlands, is our Denzel Washington?” With the answers I’ve heard so far, I think we mean: “These are great actors who we’d love to see have careers similar to Denzel’s.” With our answers, we refer to those who would be capable. From Emmanuel Ohene Boafo, José Montoya, Werner Kolf and Adison dos Reis to Kenneth Herdigein, from Akwasi and Yannick Jozefzoon to Felix Burleson… we’ve got some excellent actors who, of this I’m 100% certain, could be the answer to the question. But, to be honest… with the current range of Dutch films and plays, how would we know?”

Excerpt from my article about Black, intergenerational mentorship among Afro-Dutch actors plus the love between Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington. I wrote this piece as part of the Poitier and Washington-festival organized by Eye cinema (Amsterdam). I wrote the Dutch one and Eye provided English translations. Published: August 12, 2022.


Upcoming events: Billie Holiday, Project Wiaspora & #BPTKids

This year, fast-fast and slow as it has been, is coming to an end. The Blacker Blackness classes will continue until the Winter break but I’m wrapping up my Bijlmer Parktheater activities of this year on Sunday December 5. That morning, from 11.00h-13.00h, our awe-mazing head of PR & marketing Kimberley Piqué, the good Sista’s from the Bijlmer Bookstore and I are co-hosting a kid’s event in the foyer of Bijlmer Parktheater: #BPTKids . More info will follow soon but when I tell you it will be hosted by Jennifer Muntslag and José Montoya, you already know the kids (age 2-7) will love it.

November events
1. Thursday 18, Bijlmer Parktheater: Live recording of two Project Wiaspora-episodes
Event text (as written for Bijlmer Parktheater):
As part of their Project Wiaspora podcast, initiators Simone Zeefuik and Richard Kofi, financially supported by the Stimuleringsfonds, developed a new series: Wiasporan Proverbs. These proverbs consist of six truths, four of which are recorded live in the main room of the house where Zeefuik and Kofi both work as programmers: Bijlmer Parktheater. Each episode is a mix of conversations and performances. The two Wiasporan Truths they’ll record with their guests on Thursday, November 18, are “What’s the scenario?” and “What’s the future tense of being Afro-European?”. “What’s the scenario?” is about how we’d like to see the representation of NL-based, Afrodiasporic communities in films and plays. In the episode “Past, present… What’s the future tense of being Afro-European” Kofi, Zeefuik they will visualize the future of Afrodiasporic communities in Europe. For this Wiasporan Truth, they’ll focus on national institutes and independent initiatives.
Featuring: Ira Kip, Lyse Ishimwe and Adéọlá Adérè̩mí.
Time: 20:00h-22:00h
Click here to purchase your ticket(s).

2. Saturday 20: Panel about Billie Holiday & the film The United States vs. Billie Holiday
“Me, personally… my opening scene would start with a closeup of her right hand. We see it holding a dangling cigarette, its top marked vaguely by red lipstick, and a piece of paper. We can’t read the handwriting but we can make out that the text comes with notes and marks. It’s quiet. Quiet as the camera slowly zooms out and she lays the paper down on something. Perhaps a table, probably a chair.” On my Instagram, I posted part of my reimaginations of this film that I have major issues with: The United States vs. Billie Holiday. The movie centers around the song Strange Fruit and how performing it, resulted in an institutionally racist standoff between Billie Holiday and the U.S.A. What I truly, and when I tell you deeply, am looking forward to, is talking about Billie Holiday with three of my favourite folks: Ira Kip, Aïda Sium and Tracian Meikle. We’ll do so on Saturday November 20 at Rotterdam’s LantarenVenster cinema. We’ll talk about our love for Billie Holiday, the choices we would have made, the urgency of unlearning certain gazes and Hollywood’s unfaced challenges of properly portraying this Icon. Our conversation will be in English.

Location: LantarenVenster (address: Otto Reuchlinweg 996, 3072 MD Rotterdam).
Time: 14.00h-17.30h.
Click here to purchase your ticket(s).
Please note: Your ticket is for the film screening and the panel. If you have a Cineville card, please choose the “Reserveren”-option. There, you can select your free ticket.
This event is a co-production of HipHopHuis, Bijlmer Parktheater, Recognition and LantarenVenster.