Kevin Jerome Everson is one of the more prominent African American experimental filmmakers. A recipient of many prestigious awards, grants and fellowships, his challenging works have been exhibited at several revered film festivals and institutions all over the world.
Usually sparse and rugged, combining documentary and scripted elements, his films often focus on the lives of mostly working class people of African descent. Abstract and demanding, his style is certainly not for everyone; but I always instinctively sit up and pay attention, whenever I hear of any new projects he’s developing.
There are still several of Everson’s films I’ve yet to see (his resume comprises of some 15 films in total since 2004), although I plan to see them all as I’m able to get my hands on them.
His next work – a short film called Century – will screen in the New Frontier section at the Sundance Film Festival next month.
Ahead of that screening, I’m scheduled to interview the filmmmaker for the very first time, which I’m looking forward to. Of course, that interview will be posted here.
In the meantime, Kevin’s producer/rep Madeleine Molyneaux of Picture Palace Pictures forwarded me this thoughtful essay on his work (which is better than anything I could’ve written), in the current issue of Drain (an on-line journal), titled, simply, Undefeated – Notes on the films of Kevin Jerome Everson.
Penned by Emmanuel Burdeau, a film critic based in Paris, it’s a worthwhile read, even if you’re not familiar with his work; although it would be helpful if you were. But it should hopefully encourage you to want to take a look at his work after you read it, if you’re not already familiar.
Here’s the intro to Burdeau’s essay:
What do we see in the films of Kevin Jerome Everson? We see what cinema rarely, if ever, shows. We see the ordinary gestures of America’s Black population, the gestures of work and sport, of the taxi driver, the trucker, the policeman, of the amateur and the champion. We see men and women talking to the filmmaker’s microphone or that of a TV station, going and coming with the rhythm of works and days, but also with the rhythm of images that originate as waves: flux and reflux, broad day and lights out, visibility and invisibility, etc. We see them inside-outside, on the porch of their home (Fifeville), alternating between two passions or two professions (Cinnamon, 72), or between vacation time and tasks that have to be performed before returning to work (Two-Week Vacation); in the incongruous interval between the numbers in a medical report and in newspaper discount coupons (140 Over 90); in the interval — unstable because of economic upheavals — between house and factory (Merger). We see them upside down, head above water now, now on the contrary seeming to be swallowed up by depths from which they will never emerge again. We see them driving, hands on the wheel, eyes fixed on the road ahead (Cinnamon, 72, Company Line…). We also see one with his head in the car-machine (Twenty Minutes, Undefeated), the other boxing and skipping in place to fight off the cold while his friend repairs, or tries to repair, the vehicle (Undefeated again).
For the rest of it, click HERE for Drain‘s website.
The essay was originally commissioned for the Video Data Bank publication/box set Broad Daylight and Other Times: Selected Works of Kevin Jerome Everson (2011).
And stay tuned for our upcoming interview with Everson…