Skip to main content

BLACK IS...BLACK AIN'T

USA, 1995 (MIFF 1995, Documentaries)

Director: Marlon T Riggs

Award-winning director of Tongues Untied (MIFF 92) and Colour Adjustment (MIFF 93) Marlon Riggs' final work is an eloquent and passionate exploration of the complex shifting nature of African-American consciousness 'What is Black?', 'Not Black Enough?' 'Too Black?', what happens to issues of culture, gender and class in the quest for unity? Sparkling with intellectual vigour, this exceptional documentary challenges the simple manifestations of identity politics, provoking rather than resolving the question of whether blackness can be reduced to a unitary core experience which all African-Americans can eagerly aspire to, if not share.

A blend of biographical profiles music and per­formance, archival images, confessions, skits, folk stories and personal narratives, Riggs likens his visual style to his grandmothers quilts, the linking thread being the director's own encounters with alienation due to colour, class, sexuality and ulti­mately HIV-positive status. Completed posthu­mously by the director's colleagues, Nicole Atkinson and Christine Badgley, the film takes on the added dimensions of a personal odyssey as Riggs becomes an onscreen character-usually seen or heard from his hospital bed.

An insightful exploration of the convoluted nature of self as well as a confronting legacy for the black communities, Black Is Black Ain't is a powerful epitaph for a life-affirming and talented filmmaker.

See also...

NO LOANS TODAY

... ... South Central L.A. is a world unto itself. Sometimes lawless, sometimes cruel, always hard. Set largely in the A.B.C. Pawnshop—a Social Security cheque-cashing 'fringe bank'-we are ... More »

SONIC OUTLAWS

... ... Craig Baldwin, outlaw filmmaker (Tribulation 99, O No Coronado!), has found the perfect materi­al on which to wield his mighty editing knife and vast found-footage collection. Sonic ... More »

IN THE SHADOW OF THE STARS

Like A Chorus Line, In the Shadow of the Stars goes behind the scenes, discovering among the choristers of the San Francisco Opera the aspiration of singers who want to be soloists and who dream of ... More »

NOTE BY NOTE: THE MAKING OF STEINWAY L1037

Long before a key is ready to be touched, every Steinway concert grand is subjected to the high art of old-school craftsmanship. ... From the factory floor in Queens to Steinway Hall in Manhattan ... More »

Inside Deep Throat

"Open up and say 'ah' to this wickedly probing documentary from Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato ([Eyes of Tammy Faye], MIFF 00). Before the internet made it a snap to download porn, dudes in ... More »

THE REDEMPTION OF GENERAL BUTT NAKED

"Utterly fascinating, with a charismatic central figure - love him or loathe him - who is made for the big screen." - Hollywood Reporter ... A naked, gun-toting murderer who lead an army that ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director