Losing Ground

86 mins.
Directed by Kathleen Collins

Seminar at 7:00pm, with film to follow at approximately 8:00pm.

The inimitable Kathleen Collins's second film tells the story of two remarkable people, married and hurtling toward a crossroads in their lives: Sara Rogers (Seret Scott), a Black professor of philosophy, is embarking on an intellectual quest just as her painter husband, Victor (Bill Gunn), sets off on an exploration of joy.

Victor decides to rent a country house away from the city, but the couple’s summer idyll becomes complicated by his involvement with a younger model.

One of the very first fictional features by an African-American woman, LOSING GROUND remains a stunning and powerful work of art for being a funny, brilliant, and personal member of indie cinema canon.

Cinema Seminar: “Breakthroughs in Black Cinema”

In a live seminar, Smith College professor Anaiis Cisco will examine LOSING GROUND, its innovative contributions to Black independent filmmaking, and its portrayal of Black female interiority.

Cisco’s seminar aims to uplift Black feminist filmmaking traditions with a specific focus on Kathleen Collins, a filmmaker who pioneered the use of alternative funding and distribution strategies in her work. LOSING GROUND challenged the hypersexualized depictions of Black women in Blaxploitation films that were prevalent in mainstream media, offering a nuanced look at the complex aspects of Black female sexuality through the lens of a Black woman director.

Despite working outside of the mainstream systems, Collins became the first African American woman to write and direct an independent film. In this seminar, Cisco highlights the success of Collins’s production model for LOSING GROUND and how it has provided a blueprint for crafting multidimensional narratives and devises collaborative and equitable filmmaking structures as a way to overcome the structural barriers that have historically hindered the success of Black independent productions.

About the speaker:

Anaiis Cisco, assistant professor of moving image production in film and media studies at Smith College, received her master’s in cinema from San Francisco State University in the spring of 2019. Cisco focuses on the experiences of underrepresented racial, ethnic, queer and gendered identities. Her short film, BREATHLESS (2017), inspired by the murder of Eric Garner, has won numerous awards and has screened at various film festivals. Cisco’s most recent short narrative, GYRL (2018), is a portrait of a preteen African American girl struggling with an abusive father. Currently in the early stages of distribution, her thesis film, DRIP LIKE COFFEE, explores Black womanhood, desire and space, while rendering the Black female body as fluid.

Cisco teaches digital video production courses at Smith, where she develops films that explore the emotional and internal journeys of Black characters, confronting intimate moments of violence and trauma in diverse story worlds.