Sunday, January 9, 2011

#228 Tongues Untied (1989)

Director: Marlon Riggs

Cast: Marlon Riggs, Michael Bell, Blackberri, Kerrigan Black, Gideon Ferebee, Essex Hemphill, A.J. Honey, Larry Duckette, Gerald Davis, Paul Horrey

With the feeling of 80s guerilla New York City fine art, Marlon Riggs brings us his documentary on black, gay America via the Black Men Loving Black Men revolution. Using fiction, accounts of his own life as a black gay man, civil rights movement footage, clips from (then's) modern media, dance, and poetry, Riggs paints a picture of an entire facet of Americans silenced by their inability to express themselves.

Of course, being a white, straight woman– how can I even begin to understand the context of this film? Is this film for everyone? To me, it was speaking to its own kind– it was speaking a language I didn't quite fully understand. Un-silence yourselves, speak, be heard, be unafraid. A powerful message to those who I imagine were masking an insurmountable amount of fear and pain with anger during this time.

Being who I am, I cannot change the angle from which I see this film. As an impartial audience, I can only step aside and acknowledge the film for what it is, and also, what it is not. I was not able to appreciate its format– the humor?, the poetry, the artistry that Riggs used in this film mostly repelled me and seemed dated beyond salvation. The message, however, is of course timeless and as important as ever. I am happy to have viewed this film, despite my non-enjoyment of the message's delivery.

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