Camille Billops Family Trilogy at LANGSTON

Camille Billops, James Hatch · 1982/1991/2002
180min · digital

Wednesday, March 29 from 6:00-9:00 PM at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute; $14 general, $10 for Grand Illusion members

Presented by LANGSTON, Black Cinema Collective, SIFF, and Grand Illusion Cinema.

Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops (1933–2019) and her partner in life and work, James Hatch (1928–2020), left behind invaluable legacies as archivists who worked tirelessly to preserve records of Black cultural life and as filmmakers who turned their unflinching camera on Billops’s own, often painful personal experiences. The films they made together, while grounded in documentary, use a range of techniques including reenactments, dramatization, and satire to illuminate the ways in which race, gender, and class shape everyday life.

In their Family Trilogy—Suzanne, Suzanne; Finding Christa; and A String of Pearls—the pair cover more than 30 years of troubling truths from Billops’s own family, tackling issues of drug addiction, abuse, unwanted pregnancy, and motherhood with fearless honesty.

Suzanne, Suzanne (1982 – new 4K restoration): This poignant documentary presents a devastating portrait of Camille Billops’s niece, Suzanne, who is haunted by the abuse she suffered as a child and the passivity of the family members who allowed it to continue. “Remains one of the most powerful documentaries of domestic life.” bell hooks, Reel to Real Watch Trailer

Finding Christa (1991 – new 2K digitization): This startlingly personal documentary explores the feelings surrounding the reunion between filmmaker Camille Billops and her own daughter, Christa, twenty years after being given up for adoption. Facing the re-encounter with mixed emotions, Billops interrogates her family and friends as well as her own motivations. The result is an original and daring work that challenges social biases about adoption and offers new insight into mother-daughter relationships. Watch Trailer

A String of Pearls (2002 – new 2K digitization): In the final installment of the Family Trilogy, Camille Billops turns the camera on four generations of men in her family and considers the ways in which urban violence, unemployment, and the early deaths of their own fathers have shaped their lives. Watch Trailer

“For Camille Billops, autobiography is a means to a new Black documentary style.” Sight & Sound