Ephraim Asili: The Diaspora Suite
Conversations at the Edge
February 22nd, Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago
Ephraim Asili, still from American Hunger, 2013
In 2011, New York-based filmmaker, DJ, and traveler Ephraim Asili began an extraordinary series of films on the African diaspora. These films—Forged Ways (2011), American Hunger (2013), Many Thousands Gone (2015), Kindah (2016), and Fluid Frontiers (2017)—bring together archival research and Asili’s travels through Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jamaica, and the United States to chart cultural connections across time and space. Fluid Frontiers, for example, explores ideas of resistance and liberation through Detroit’s Broadside Press, one of the most important presses for Black poetry. Asili asks residents of Detroit and nearby Windsor, Ontario, to read these poems without rehearsal, potently collapsing history, contemporary politics, and art through their magnetic performances. In earlier works like American Hunger, Asili knits together images from downtown Accra, Ghana’s coastal slave forts, and the Jersey Shore in an effort to understand his own relationship with Western colonialism and US imperialism.
2011–17, multiple countries, digital file, ca 92 min + discussion
Ephraim Asili’s films have screened in festivals and venues all over the world, including the New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Ann Arbor Film Festival, Michigan; San Francisco International Film Festival; Milan Film Festival, Italy; International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Netherlands; MoMA PS1, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the Whitney Museum, New York. As a DJ, Asili can be heard on his radio program In The Cut on WGXC, or live at his monthly dance party Botanica. Asili currently resides in Hudson, New York, and is an Assistant Professor in the Film and Electronic Arts department at Bard College.
Fluid Frontiers—Wavelengths, Jesse Cumming, Cinema Scope (2017)