In Conversation: Bridgett M. Davis and Renee Cox
An extensive discussion between writer/director Bridgett M. Davis and artist/photographer RenéeCox of their creative partnership on NAKED ACTS and their work individually on themes of black women’s sexuality and its representation in film, literature, and art. Moderated by Marlon Bailey, Associate Professor, Gender Studies, American Studies.
In 2013, IU’s Black Film Center/Archive (BFC/A) received an important donation from Bridgett M. Davis of the original 35mm elements for her independent feature, NAKED ACTS (1996), along with an extensive collection of contextual material, including the shooting script, production notes, journals, press kits, and other items related to the film’s development, production, exhibition, and reception. Cited in S. Torriano Berry’s The 50 Most Influential Black Films as the first feature film to be written, directed, produced, and entirely self-distributed by an African American woman, NAKED ACTS broke ground as well for Davis’s expressly Black feminist project: to “explore the myriad influences—personal, familial, communal, and societal— that have an impact on [a Black woman’s] sense of herself as a sexual being” and to examine the impact on self-image of “the dominant film portrayals of Black women in this country’s cinematic history.” In casting the role of Diana, the “sistah spirit” in the film, Davis found a creative partner in her fellow image-maker, artist Renée Cox, who grounds the film with her performance as an art photographer taking the nude black female form as her subject. Davis’s film was embraced by critics and audiences on the festival circuit, appearing at over two dozen festivals in the US, Europe, and Africa.
Sponsored by Black Film Center/Archive, College Arts & Humanities Institute, the Kinsey Institute, Departments of American Studies, Gender Studies, English, and African American and African Diaspora Studies, the Creative Writing Program, and IU Cinema.
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