Taking the filmmaker's famous maxim as a starting point, we launch this 8-film retrospective of Trinh T. Minh-ha, the pioneering anti-colonialist feminist filmmaker and theorist, in the spirit of deconstructing the documentary form. What do her digital and celluloid investigations do to dissolve the boundaries of one form and another?
Vietnamese-American filmmaker Trinh famously said that she intends "not to speak about, just speak nearby." That is crucial in understanding the way her movies work—something you'll get a chance to do by digging into these eight dazzling experimental works. Even if some of these films have an ethnographic patina, as in Reassemblage (1982) or Naked Spaces (1985), both shot on the African continent and ostensibly observing the rhythms of daily life there, all are ultimately taking these as a starting point for parallel investigations. Trinh's is a truly liberated cinema. This feminist liberation extends not only from the subjects themselves, which are undoubtedly empowering and worthy of rapt attention, but courses through the very forms with which she is working. In doing so, Trinh has always been at the forefront of cinematic experimentation. In her cinema, there is an uncommonly free sense of play in the way each image and each edit comes together, as if any particular sound-image combination has never before been done—a symbiotic kind of formal liberation that takes flight from both those who appear in front of her camera and the artist behind it.
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