Films by Collaborators and Assisted by St. Clair Bourne
American Promise (Michéle Stephenson and Joe Brewster/2014/135 mins/DCP)
Thirteen years in the making, following two middle class African-American boys navigating life at a prestigious Manhattan prep school, and the implicit bias and systemic racism of elite private schooling. Stephenson, a co-founder, with St. Clair Bourne, of the Black Documentary Collective, writes, “His revolutionary vision, philosophy and guidance is needed more today than ever. I miss him. He is present with me in all the work I do.”
Brothers Hypnotic (Reuben Atlas/2013/94 mins/Digital)
From a family of twenty-four on Chicago’s South Side, these are the real life brothers of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, brought up on a strict diet of jazz, funk and Black consciousness, raising brass horns as they play around the world. St. Clair Bourne started on the project before introducing director Atlas to Sam Pollard, who produced the lm, and served as a mentor yet again on the project of a young filmmaker making his first documentary.
The Deadliest Disease in America (Crystal Emery/2018/56 mins/Digital)
Clearly highlighting the unequal treatment that individuals often receive based on the color of their skin, Emery’s film is a direct hit on racism in the health care system, what to do about it, and the responsibilities of individuals and institutions to overcome the racial and ethnic inequities in comprehensive health care reform. St. Claire Bourne was a friend and mentor to filmmaker Crystal Emery, and the production supervisor on this film.
Innocent Until Proven Guilty (Kirsten Johnson/1999/65 mins/Digital)
A critical look at the criminal justice system which traces the first year of an alternative high school for juvenile ex-offenders, co-founded by James Forman Jr. (author of this year’s Locking Up Our Own). Of Executive Producer Bourne, Johnson writes “...in his fierce commitment to exposing the mechanisms and destructive powers of racism he remained ever warm as he challenged my young white self to face and struggle with the ways racism lives in images as well as systems.”
The Long Night (Woodie King Jr./1976/85 mins/35mm)
Produced by St. Clair Bourne, and directed by theater legend King, this is the story of one night in the life of a boy spent on the street, encountering the denizens of mid-1970s Harlem, while commenting on Vietnam, marital discord, substance abuse, paternal relationships, schooling, and unemployment—in short, the life of an American family.
On My Own (Rachel Miller Bradshaw/2014/53 mins/Digital)
Shattering the stigma of single motherhood, and a sweeping journey through the discourse of black family life in the US, through conversations with mothers, fathers, community leaders and family experts. “St. Clair’s bold work reflecting the African- American experience influenced my editorial direction. His filmmaking was a blueprint of integrity for directing I applied when telling the stories of all the subjects featured.”—Rachel Miller Bradshaw
Promised Land (Yaruba Richen/2010/53 mins/Digital)
Promised Land follows two black communities in South Africa as they struggle to reclaim their land from white owners and create just solutions, amidst rising tensions and wavering government policies. Filmmaker Yoruba Richen cites St. Claire Bourne as a mentor, who organized a Los Angeles work-in-progress screening that provided the film visibility and momentum.
A Question of Color (Kathe Sandler/1992/56 mins/16mm)
Of this, one of the best docs of the decade, filmmaker Sandler writes, “I wanted to shed light on a recurring theme in human relations: how opposed people adapt and internalize the very views their oppressor has used to oppress them...that issues of color consciousness are also real for other people of color—in the Caribbean, in Africa, in Latin America, and in Asia—who have experienced similar forms of domination. I also wanted to tackle the intersection of gender and color: the position of men over women that seems to further oppress and divide black women.”
Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela (Thomas Allen Harris/2005/75 mins/Digital)
A lesser-known story from the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa about the generation of young men who left their country to clandestinely build the African National Congress (ANC) and spread its liberation message. One of many great films by Harris on which Bourne advised and assisted, who shares the common refrain from filmmakers of “the extent of appreciation for [Saint’s] honesty, activism, support and nurturance of their work and careers.”
Wilhemina's War (June Cross/2016/61 mins/DCP)
The story of a South Carolina grandmother’s struggle to destigmatize HIV in her community. "Saint often spoke of reporting on African-Americans that was done from the point of view of mainstream journalists reporting on a sub-culture and his work which identifies with the subjects he filmed. Working as a journalist and activist, I serve as Wilhemina’s conduit and translator to help tell her story to the world.”
— June Cross
The series starts February 16
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