Brown Arts

The Precarity of African Spectacle

November 6, 13, & 20, 2023 (Concluded)
A selection of films from across the African continent and diaspora that contend with the social and political dimensions of Racial Ecologies.

An IGNITE Series Campus Project

Curated by Istifaa Ahmed (Ph.D. candidate, American Studies), Maria Cecilia Azar (Cecilia), (Ph.D. candidate, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies), Isaac Essex (Ph.D. candidate, American Studies), Luvuyo Nyawose (Ph.D. Modern Culture and Media), JD Stokely (Ph.D. candidate Theatre Arts and Performance Studies), Macarena Gómez-Barris (Professor of Modern Culture and Media)

The Racial Ecologies Collective (REC) emerges from the ecological ruin wrought by capitalism and coloniality. A proposed series of talks, performances, workshops, and screenings explores global structures of colonial power and the aesthetic responses of minoritarian artists and theorists to accelerating conditions of environmental and social ruin and resurgence.

The Precarity of African Spectacle film series is a selection of film screenings that brings together a selection of films from across the African continent and diaspora that contend with the social and political dimensions of Racial Ecologies. We will offer free public screenings of feature films such as: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (2019); Akuol de Mabior’s No Simple Way Home (2022); Fyzal Boulifa’s Les damnés ne pleurent pas (The Damned Don’t Cry) (2022), and short films such Amartei Armar’s - Tsutsuè (2022), Akinola Davies Jr’s Lizard (2020), and Olive Nwosu’s - Egúngún (Masquerade) (2021). 

The film screenings will take place at the Granoff Center for Creative Arts - Martinos Auditorium, Mondays 6th, 13th, and 20th November 2023 between 6pm - 10pm. Each evening’s screenings will feature a short film and feature film, followed by a Q&A session with the director of the feature film, ending with a small reception for audience members to engage more informally. 

Precarity of African Spectacle poster

The event is presented as part of the Brown Arts IGNITE series, in collaboration with the Department of Modern Culture and Media, Magic Lantern Cinema, the Malcolm S. Forbes Center for Culture and Media Studies, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs’s Africa Initiative, the Graduate African Student Organisation (GASO) and the Department of French and Francophone Studies.


The Precarity of African Spectacle Film Series

Monday November 6, 6:00pm | Granoff Center for Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium

Short film (screening begins at 6pm) 

Amartei Armar - Tsutsuè (2022)

Running time: 15 minutes

Set in a small Ghanaian town at the edge of a large landfill site that spills into the ocean, the sons of a fisherman, Sowah and Okai, struggle to cope with the loss of their eldest brother who drowned during a fishing expedition. Haunted by his demise, Okai believes their brother is still out there.


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Feature film (screening begins at 6:30pm) 

Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese - This is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection (2019)

Running time: 122 minutes 

Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese crafts a meditation on the concept of homeland and a transcendent elegy for what is lost in the name of progress. Grieving and alone following the deaths of her husband and children, elderly Mantoa prepares for her own death and to be buried alongside her ancestors. When plans for a new dam near her village in the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho threaten to literally wash away all she holds dear, Mantoa takes a last stand, mobilizing her neighbors to fight for their land and their way of life. The experience of watching Mosese’s visionary, much-lauded This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection is as timeless and elemental as the land itself.


Q&A moderated by Prof. Zoe Samudzi - Clark University with director Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (virtual).

Monday November 13, 6:00pm | Granoff Center for Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium

Short film (screening begins at 6pm)

Akinola Davies Jr. - Lizard (2020)

Running time: 17 minutes

Juwon, an 8-year-old girl with an ability to sense danger, gets ejected from Sunday school service. She unwittingly witnesses the underbelly in and around a Mega Church in Lagos.


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Feature film (screening begins at 6:30pm) 

Akuol de Mabior - No Simple Way Home (2022)

Running time: 83 minutes


A family returns home to South Sudan to help forge a young nation’s future in this personal and perceptive documentary from debut filmmaker Akuol de Mabior. The history of de Mabior’s family is closely tied to the history of South Sudan. Akuol’s father led his country’s liberation movement for over 20 years and is revered as the nation’s founder. He died when Akuol was 16, just three weeks after his inauguration as South Sudan’s vice president. Akuol was raised in exile but returns with her mother and siblings to help rebuild her homeland and support her mother’s political campaign. Finding it hard to settle after so many years away, Akuol uses her camera to survey her new world, recording her mother, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, as she shares her hopes for a prosperous and peaceful nation, and ultimately takes on the role of vice president. 

Q&A session moderated by Prof. Itohan Osayimwese - Brown University with director Akuol de Mabior (virtual).

Monday November 20, 5:00pm | Granoff Center for Creative Arts, Martinos Auditorium

Short film (screening begins at 6pm)

Olive Nwosu - Egúngún (Masquerade) (2021)

Running time: 14 minutes 

Salewa must return home for her mother’s funeral, to Lagos, a place where she once had to hide herself. At the funeral, she runs into an important person from her past, and is forced to go in search of her own peace. Egúngún (Masquerade) is a meditation on home, memory, and identity—on the many versions of ourselves that haunt us.


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Feature film (screening begins at 18h30) 

Fyzal Boulifa, Les damnés ne pleurent pas (The Damned Don’t Cry) (2022)

Running time: 110 minutes 

Fatima-Zahra and her teenage son, Selim, move from place to place, forever trying to outrun the latest scandal Fatima-Zahra’s caught up in. When Selim discovers the truth about their past, Fatima-Zahra vows to make a fresh start. In Tangier, new opportunities promise the legitimacy they each crave, but not without pushing the volatile mother-son relationship to the breaking point. Les damnés ne pleurent pas (The Damned Don’t Cry) combines melodrama and neorealism to tell the story of a mother-son relationship on the fringes, observing the effects of oppression, both economic and affective, in a cut-throat world. 


Q&A session moderated by Prof. Mohamed Amer Méziane - Brown University with director Fyzal Boulifa (virtual).


In the News

The Racial Ecologies Collective

Meet the curators of the Precarity of African Spectacle!

Istifaa Ahmed, American Studies

Istifaa Ahmed is a PhD candidate in American Studies. Istifaa’s research looks to queer/trans of color performance, aesthetics, and speculative fictions for its disruption of political violence. Their work holds eroticized and porous configurations of (in)human form––its exchanges and permeations across human/nonhuman matter, its dissident choreographies against colonial structures of governance, and sustained modes of illegibility from the vantage point of a social life rendered nonexistent (yet living). As their research seeks to bridge politically engaged culture and performance, Istifaa also pursues community-engaged projects with her dance studio entailing collaborative choreographies that center creative knowledge production.


Maria Cecilia Azar (Cecilia), Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

M. Cecilia Azar  is a Ph.D. student in the Theater and Performance Studies Program and an affiliated graduate student of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She studies and writes about the cultural productions of queer and travesti/ trans diasporas in the Americas.


Isaac Essex, American Studies

Isaac Essex is a Ph.D student in American Studies at Brown University. Working primarily in Trans Studies, he also engages the Environmental Humanities, Affect Theory, Mad Studies, and Visual and Aesthetic Culture, which gather under a consideration of care as a practice that intervenes in dominant systems of power. They are particularly interested in affective relationality, exploring plains of possibility and refusal, which extends to their poetic practice that attempts to figure modes of being that language refuses. At Brown, he is also the co-facilitator of the Anti-Workshop. 


Luvuyo Nyawose, Modern Culture and Media

Luvuyo Equiano Nyawose is an artist, curator and filmmaker. His current work and research unpacks the ‘afterlives’ of imperialism and apartheid on South African coastlines. Nyawose is a PhD student in the department of Modern Culture and Media with an interest in Anti-colonial Theory, Black Studies, Film Studies, Public and Visual Cultures and Performance Studies. 


JD Stokely, Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

JD Stokely (they/he) is a trickster-in-training who creates and curates work about Black queer aesthetics, cultural memory, and public space. Stokely is a fourth-year doctoral student in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University. Stokely is also a co-founding member of Unbound Bodies Collective, a multidisciplinary arts lab for QTBIPOC creatives centered around embodiment, pleasure, and joy.


Macarena Gómez-Barris, Professor of Modern Culture and Media

Macarena Gómez-Barris is the author of four books including Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile, Beyond the Pink Tide: Artistic and Political Undercurrents in the Américas and The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Her current work is on sea edges. Macarena is Timothy C. Forbes and Anne S. Harrison University Professor and Chair of the Department of Modern Culture and Media, and jointly appointed in the Brown Arts Institute at Brown University. She is co-founder of the Elemental Media Lab.

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