Film Review: Black Mother

There are many types of documentaries out there. Some are heavily reliant on archive footage to tell a story whilst others have the benefit of having the central protagonist on hand to spill the beans. A few brave souls go a step further and create something which sits somewhere betwixt film and art. The ‘Qatsi’ trilogy and Man with a Movie Camera take a more observational approach whilst A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness and Phantom Cowboys opts for expressive meditation.

Khalik Allah latest film Black Mother follows a poetic path. Following on from his breakout Field Niggas, the American director trains his camera on the Jamaican people. Travelling around the country he takes in bustling cities and lush countryside, meeting ordinary Jamaicans on the quest to get a sense of their past, present and future. Creating mesmeric and experimental collages, he uses a range of shades and hues to paint a vivid picture.

Much of Black Mother is shot in black and white 16mm film which allows it to transcend the ages, creating a historical document which isn’t suspended in time. This lyrical approach instils it with an aura of timelessness, and whilst certain sections may date it, they do not define it. As the narration darts around between centuries, the outline of a nation is born. Like a spectre, Black Mother floats through history to create an eerie portrait of a people.

Black Mother is out in cinemas from 2 November.

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