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For the last couple of days, I’ve had the opportunity to watch several films by Indian director, writer, and composer, Satyajit Ray. What a pleasure they’ve been! Even with my long-standing appreciation for World cinema, with all of its rich and varied cultures, perspectives, and approaches to storytelling, Ray’s films stand out to me as being particularly refreshing. Not only do they give the viewer an opportunity to learn more about past and present Indian culture (or at least as much as one can through the epistemological ambiguity of film), several of the films also consider complex social, philosophical, political, and familial issues in such a way that engages the viewer’s mind, sympathy, and empathy without offering canned, simple answers. That's not to say that they’re always knitted brow and serious; they’re also enjoyably entertaining as well. But neither are they formulaic and fluffy. I also greatly appreciate the respect Ray shows to the music. He gives full attention to the musical performances, without interrupting them with dialogue, and only minimal cuts to other characters. Many of these musical performances are jewels in and of themselves. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ray’s films, and who may be interested, I highly recommend the following films: The Big City (1963) Charulata (1964) The Stranger (1991) Devi (1960) The Music Room (1958) And three of his short films: Three Daughters: Postmaster (1961) Three Daughters: Samapati (1961) Three Daughters: Monihara (1961) Of course Ray made many, many more films, perhaps most notably Pather Panchali (1955), but I haven’t seen them yet, so I can’t honestly recommend them.
I'm currently doing research on female filmmakers and actors of the African diaspora from 1920s-1970s. So far, I've covered Maria P. Williams, Tressie Sounders, Zora Neale Hurston, and Eloyce Gist. Does anyone have an leads or information on any Black women in and outside of America during this time period making films and creating behind the scenes? Is so, please let me know. Feel free to read the current posts I have focusing on the aforementioned directors and producers as well as actress Nina Mae McKinney from King Vidor's film Hallelujah in 1929.
Another one has left us, friends. The always unique and underrated William Greaves passed away at his Manhattan home at the age of 87. Probably best known for his experimental film "Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Part One", Greaves was also vastly influential in shaping news and documentary specials in the late '60s and early '70s, especially those devoted to African-American issues and historical figures. There are many in the field who owe him a large debt, whether they realize it or not, and he was always hoping that others would follow in his footsteps and continue the fight. I hope that his contributions will not get lost or thrown by the wayside. Here is his obituary from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/arts/william-greaves-a-documentarian-and-pioneering-journalist-dies-at-87.html