We’re in the midst of a truth-telling and potentially reconciling moment for people of the African Diaspora. These two films are taking the indie film world by storm and getting a lot of buzz in the process. Try to watch them in your city, if you can!
Deeper Than Black tackles how second-generation Ghanaian-Americans, or American-born Ghanaians, straddle their African and African American identities. Film-maker Sean Addo takes on the questions of identity, place, and cultural belonging in this first-person documentary short.
In the trailer and on Addo’s website, he comments on the ebbs and flows of being accepted and rejected by his Black American and Ghanaian communities. The short offers glimpses into the heart-wrenching challenges of second-generation African immigrants who possess dual identities, cultures, and languages. I anticipate that Deeper Than Black will prompt a lot of people to examine the roles they’ve played in culturally accepting or questioning themselves and Diasporans with dual identities.
Bound: Africans vs. African Americans focuses on the tensions and fractures between both groups stemming from Atlantic slavery and colonialism and persisting to today. Kenyan director Peres Owino uses interviews and her own unique style of story-telling to prompt Africans and African Americans to share their feelings about each other, their similiariteis and differences, and what kind of relationships are possible. Throughout the film she asks difficult questions such as, “Do Africans owe African Americans an apology for slavery?” Yeah, she holds no punches.
In a Seattle Medium interview late last year, Owino described her impetus to explore the often-frought relationship between African Americans and Africans. She stated:
I live in La Dera, Inglewood area, and I’ve lived there for like four years. And I didn’t know my neighbors, and I didn’t want to know my neighbors. I’m living here in a Black community and I’m alienating myself. Why? When I was in Kenya all I wanted to do was to connect with African Americans, but here I am now, in the midst, and I’m like, ‘What is this thing?’ And then you sit and you start to look at everyone’s face. When I look at young Black boys, 15, 16, 17 years old–cuz I have brothers who are 16 and 17 years old– I see my brothers. I literally see my brothers. And that just continued to do this thing…like, ‘No, you have to go in here. You have to go in here.’ And I went in and realized that it wasn’t even me who had to go back in. It was a call that’s coming from way back, that’s saying, ‘I need you to go in here for me.’
I had to take a deep breath after that. And I bet many people will too after they watch Bound. If you’ve watched either Bound or Deeper than Black, or are thinking about watching them, please share your thoughts and reactions in the comments section!Share This: