#BlackGirlMagic Blooms in Afro-Futurist ‘BROWN GIRL BEGINS,’ Inspired by Hit Novel “Brown Girl in the Ring,” at The Caribbean Film Series, Feb. 13th at BAMcinématek
Director Sharon Lewis’ film, borrows from the novel’s future-based dystopia to craft a Caribbean-folklore heavy tale, of a reluctant priestess denying her true self.
Words by Curtis John – The genre of science fiction has long been embraced by African diaspora audiences in multiple mediums – literature, music, and yes, in cinema. With a common use of implied and direct allegories to race, identity, and social issues, sci-fi makes often complex issues become digestible to wider audiences.
But when the works are made writers and artists of the African diaspora, the storytelling seldom shies away from Black culture, which is assuredly the case with “Brown Girl Begins,” the new feature film inspired by Hugo Award nominated author Nalo Hopkinson’s, treasured 1998 novel “Brown Girl in the Ring.” Nestled in Caribbean folklore, and taking place on an island inhabited solely by the poor right off the coast of, dystopian Toronto, Canada, “Brown Girl Begins,” presents the novel’s hero, Ti-Jeanne, a few years younger than in the novel. Ti-Jeanne, has the power to save her exiled people from the pervasive crime and poverty on her island, but is deathly afraid to accept the inheritance of her grandmother’s voodoo-priestess gifts. The same possession ritual she witnessed killing her mother years ago, she must also undertake.
In her reluctance, Ti-Jeanne, flees with her young love Tony in hope of leaving the spirit business behind. But when an evil drug lord uses extreme measures on the population to unwillingly prepare them as smart slaves to the affluent mainlanders, Ti-Jeanne, is forced to choose between young love and her legacy – or her people will die.
Directed by Sharon Lewis, and fully imbuing Hopkinson’s exploration of class, race, sexuality, and Caribbean-bred fantasy elements, “Brown Girl Begins,” is the first Caribbean-Canadian science-fiction feature film ever made. In 2015, Lewis led a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the film. In presenting Ti-Jeanne, in a 2017 BlackGirlNerds.com interview, Lewis says of her protagonist, she is “at the center of her own story, she is the agent in her own story. She is complex, flawed, and what I hope is a challenge to the way Black women are historically portrayed in the media as either a madonna — the asexual best friend, momma figure, or the over-sexualized Black woman who is “sassy and sexy.”
Says Lewis, in a SyFy.com interview, “People of color not only belong in the future, we are the ones that will save us all in the dystopian future.”
Co-presented by the Caribbean Film Academy, BAMcinématek and the Brooklyn Cinema Collective, “Brown Girl Begins,” will also screen as part of BAMcinématek’s, Fight the Power: Black Superheroes on Film, a series highlighting mythical and iconic black screen heroes, and running from Feb 2-18, 2018. The film will screen at BAM Rose Cinemas, on Tuesday, February 13 at 7:00pm, and will be preceded by Martinican filmmaker, Khris Burton’s, short film, “S0.CI3.TY.”
BROWN GIRL BEGINS
Directed by Sharon Lewis
Canada | 2017 | 83 mins
Inspired by Hugo Award nominated author Nalo Hopkinson’s, “Brown Girl in the Ring,” this film prequel shows us the early life of the novel’s hero Ti-Jeanne, a reluctant priestess who in a post-apocalyptic 2049 must choose between young love and accepting her legacy – or all her people will die.
Directed by Khris Burton
Martinique | 2016 | 27 min
J0.hn, an emotionless and regulated citizen of THE CITY, awakes on a deserted island 10, 000 miles away from civilization. Equipped with the R3G, a symbiotic watch ruled by a very advanced A.I that regulates his emotions and keeps him indefinitely “operational,” J0.hn starts to plan his own rescue but things get radically complicated…
About the Caribbean Film Academy
Established in 2012, The Caribbean Film Academy (CaFA), is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and support of Caribbean filmmaking and filmmakers, in the region and the diaspora. CaFA’s work is focused on promoting and sharing the art of storytelling through film from the unique perspective of the Caribbean.
About The Brooklyn Cinema Collective
The Brooklyn Cinema Collective (BkCC) creates theatrical feature film presentations and supplies media advocacy and consultancy services for Black and POC filmmakers. The BkCC’s services are a direct offshoot of The Luminal Theater, an African diaspora film centered microcinema set to open in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The four-screen BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to offer Brooklyn audiences alternative and independent films that might not play in the borough otherwise, making BAM the only performing arts center in the country with two mainstage theaters and a multiplex cinema. In July 1999, beginning with a series celebrating the work of Spike Lee, BAMcinématek was born as Brooklyn’s only daily, year-round repertory film program. BAMcinématek presents new and rarely seen contemporary films, classics, work by local artists, and festivals of films from around the world, often with special appearances by directors, actors, and other guests. BAMcinématek has not only presented major retrospectives by major filmmakers such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Manoel de Oliveira, Shohei Imamura, Vincente Minnelli (winning a National Film Critics’ Circle Award prize for the retrospective), Kaneto Shindo, Luchino Visconti, and William Friedkin, but it has also introduced New York audiences to contemporary artists such as Pedro Costa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In addition, BAMcinématek programmed the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Nicolas Winding Refn, Hong Sang-soo, and Andrzej Zulawski.
BAM Rose Cinemas is located in the Peter Jay Sharp building at (between St Felix Street and Ashland Place).
Subway: 2, 3, 4, 5, Q, B to Atlantic Avenue; D, M, N, R to Pacific Street; G to Fulton Street; C to Lafayette Avenue.
Train: Long Island Railroad to Flatbush Avenue.
Bus: B25, B26, B41, B45, B52, B63, B67 all stop within three blocks of BAM.
Car: Commercial parking lots are located adjacent to BAM
For ticket and BAM bus information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org. For group ticket information, call BAM Ticket Services at 718.636.4100, or visit BAM.org