The Diaspora Suite

  • Revivals
  • Ephraim Asili

Made over the course of seven years and shot on 16mm in Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States, this cycle of five short films by Ephraim Asili, the director of The Inheritance (NYFF58), collapses time and space to reveal the hidden resonances between the Black American experience and the greater African diaspora. Encompassing history, politics, music, dance, poetry, and ritual, The Diaspora Suite is by turns playful, moving, and radical in its construction of a one-of-a-kind vision of Pan-African identity. A Grasshopper Film release.

For this program, please click the menu button in the upper right hand corner of your player window to select the next video in the playlist.

Get tickets for The Inheritance here.

Production stills from Fluid Frontiers by / copyright Oona Mosna, courtesy of Video Data Bank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, vdb.org.

Director

Ephraim Asili

Program Features

16m
Forged Ways

2010, USA

Through its rhythmic montage and observational imagery, the first installment of Asili’s The Diaspora Suite links the United States and Ethiopia, conveying the peculiar feeling of uprootedness. While a man navigates the streets of Harlem, images of cities and villages in Ethiopia evoke a sense of dislocation. Asili finds unexpected harmonies between two places with thousands of miles in between them.

19m
American Hunger

2013, USA/Ghana

Oscillating between a street festival in Philadelphia, the slave forts and capital city of Ghana, and the New Jersey shore, American Hunger is a rich and atmospheric meditation on personal experience and collective histories. Asili weaves in quotations by Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Hollis Frampton as the film whirls from location to location, black-and-white to color, and reality to fantasies.

8m
Many Thousands Gone

2014, USA/Brazil

Filmed on location in Salvador, Brazil (the last city in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw slavery) and Harlem, New York (a historic center for the African diaspora), Many Thousands Gone draws parallels between summer afternoons on the streets of the two cities. A silent version of the film was given to jazz multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee to create an interpretive score. The final film is a combination of Asili’s images and McPhee’s real-time “sight reading” of the score. An NYFF53 selection.

12m
Kindah

2016, USA/Jamaica Shot between Accompong, a Maroon village in Jamaica, and the city of Hudson in New York, the alternately sparse and polyrhythmic Kindah examines Asili’s relationship to the African diaspora. The title alludes to the Kindah Tree, a historical mango tree that symbolizes kinship and community in Jamaican Maroon culture. An NYFF54 selection.

23m
Fluid Frontiers

2017, USA/Canada Visually tracing the Windsor-Detroit slave pass of the Underground Railroad, with on-site readings of notable texts by Motor City’s most storied African-American poets, Asili deftly captures the city not simply as a repository of memories but as a landscape of living history. An NYFF55 selection.

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