Slab Cinema Arthouse Celebrates Black Culture Throughout February

Barbara Felix grew up thinking of herself as a Latina, even though many around her told her she looked black. Eventually she discovered the truth of her mixed heritage, an experience chronicled in her innovative short film Self-limitality: transitory reflections of color and culturea 12-minute self-portrait made using a one-way mirror and rotoscope animation.

In the film, Felix concludes that when asked to tick a box to describe her ethnicity, she would prefer to answer “All of the above”.

This range of self-reflection, societal pressures, stereotyping and triumphs based on racial consciousness – as well as Limitality of self — are all present in beautifully blacka month-long event featuring art, performance and film screenings at Arthouse Cinema Tile in the Blue Star arts complex.

beautifully black opens Thursday with a 6 p.m. performance by San Antonio sound artist Xavier Gilmore, followed by free screenings of short films by Texas filmmakers on Thursday and Friday nights.

The programming will continue with a series of feature films starting on Saturday with Walk on the river, a locally produced black story from the city of Alamo, plus classic and new films airing weekly. Visual art by San Antonio-based black artists including Kaldric Deshow Dow, Akaimi “the Artist” Davis, DeAnna Brown, and Félix will also be on view throughout the month.

Slab Cinema co-founder Angela Martinez first approached artist Felix with the idea of ​​a film noir series. Felix compiled “a huge spreadsheet of black industry films” – Felix uses the term “industry” to categorize films produced by major studios – and then decided to include independent films from black filmmakers in Texas.

Felix met Ada Babineaux, filmmaker and organizer of the San Antonio International Black Film Festival. Babineaux helped select an array of shorts that are not typically available to audiences outside of the festival circuit.

Among the 18 Black San Antonio directors included are Ya’Ke Smith, 2018 NAACP Theatrical Shorts Contest winner Dee Wayne, Cedric Thomas Smith, Michael L. Jackson, Hallease Narvaez, Babineaux and Felix, who recently expanded his work from performance based on movement to video, following his exhibition The glorious way she moves at the Carver Community Cultural Center.

Films featured by major studios range from popular 1980s hits such as Spike Lee do the right thing and I will make you suck by Keenan Ivory Wayans, to landmark films, including those of 1961 A raisin in the sunCooley High (1975) and Daughters of Dust (1991).

The list also includes international films Mandabi and Touki Bouki from Senegal from the 1960s and 1970s, and Black Orpheus, released in 1959, which reset the ancient Greek myth in the middle of the Rio de Janeiro carnival in the 20th century.

While some films tackle what Felix described as “heavyweight” topics, she said, “I really wanted it to be more of a celebration of black excellence, a place where people could come to understand or see a little bit of it. black experience.

At a time when racial awareness is hampered by political efforts to limit education, Babineaux said exploring cultures other than one’s own can serve to broaden perspectives.

“The ultimate goal of any kind of cultural exchange, when it comes to filmmaking, is for people to have a pluralistic cultural view,” she said, “and respect for films that have different races, different subjects , different stories, different voices”. .”

Detailed information about the movies included in beautifully black can be found on the Slab Cinema Arthouse website. While Texas movie showcases are free, most movies are $10. A month pass is available for $160 and the cinema offers options for annual subscriptions.

James C. Tibbs