Losing Ground

Losing Ground

classified 15

Cinema Rediscovered 2016


Please note: This was screened in July 2016

Kathleen Collins
Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, Duane Jones
86 mins, 1982, USA

One of the first fictional features written and directed by a black female American director, the late Kathleen Collins' Losing Ground was hardly screened at all in cinemas when it was released; now digitally restored through the efforts of Collins' daughter Nina, the film reveals itself as a masterpiece of African American and women's cinema.

Funny, insightful, and powerfully personal, it is a portrait of the marriage between philosophy professor Sara (Seret Scott) and painter Victor (Bill Gunn, writer and director of the legendary avant-garde horror film Ganja & Hess also screening as part of Cinema Rediscovered on Fri 29 July at 21:00). Retreating with her husband to a country house, Sara finds her would-be summer idyll complicated by both her own research - an intellectual quest to understand "ecstasy" - and Victor's involvement with a young model.

Often hilarious, the film follows its characters as they battle for ideals - artistic, political, racial - while unable to fully escape the everyday. Had Kathleen Collins not died at the age of forty-six in 1988, it’s easy to imagine her playing a major role in the growing black independent scene of the era; Losing Ground seems to be in direct dialogue with Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It, for example. Inspired by Eric Rohmer (particularly The Green Ray), it's both an exhilarating and light-on-its-feet study of the way that art and life are in continuous dialogue and conflict and a story of black lives of a sensitivity rarely seen even today.

  • With an introduction from writer/curator Karen Alexander

With thanks to the Independent Cinema Office.