Epsilon Spires to host screening of 'Black Mother'

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BRATTLEBORO — Epsilon Spires is streaming the film "Black Mother," director Khalik Allah's spiritual journey through Jamaica, on its website through June 3, with an online discussion led by Brattleboro writer Shanta Lee Gander at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.

Calling it "a proclamation, a poem and a prayer," "Black Mother" is Allah's audio-visual love letter to Jamaica, depicted through the lens of family, black life and spirituality. Its storyline structure is represented by the three trimesters of a woman's pregnancy and birth.

Filming far from the island's vacation resorts, Allah introduces viewers to a succession of vividly rendered souls who call Jamaica home. Immersed between the sacred and profane, "Black Mother" channels rebellion and reverence into a deeply personal ode, informed by Jamaica's history but existing in the present.

"There's no container for this film, it overflows with intimate portraiture and prayers that are intended to hit you in the chest more than the head," Allah has said of the film, which was released in 2018.

In her talk, Gander will explore how the film's narrative is connected to our own personal narratives, commenting on the larger narrative arc, the relationship of that narrative to the setting and to the urgency of now, because, as she says, "we know nothing exists in a vacuum."

"There is something almost indescribable about seeing art that has been constructed in absence of white gaze," Gander said of the film. "From the models who are wearing panties or clothing to give me no ideal of how I will look, to the 1980s movies that showed all the ways to paradise, skipping school, 'Dirty Dancing,' or to even be 'Pretty in Pink' imagine the despair when discovering that those images were not for you.

"Thus, after searching for yourself by watching BET, in magazines like Jet, Essence, and Ebony, in order to just catch a glimpse of anyone who looks like you in the world, can you imagine the joy of seeing each thing where you feel that for once, no acrobatics are needed to know that white wasn't at the center of the gaze?"

Tickets for "Black Mother" are $12 and available at epsilonspires.org.

The discussion led by Gander will be streamed on the Zoom internet platform. Register at epsilonspires.org. Participation is free of charge.

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