No Regrets: A Celebration of Marlon Riggs
Dates: September 19–November 25, 2019
For more information: https://bampfa.org/program/no-regrets-celebration-marlon-riggs
About Marlon Riggs
Marlon Riggs (1957–1994) was a graduate of and professor at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism who employed the medium of video to engage critically with African American (and American) culture, representation, and identity. Riggs is best known for his brilliant 1989 video essay Tongues Untied, a riveting combination of interviews, performance, stock footage, autobiography, poetry, and dance that elucidates the revolutionary potential of black men loving black men. Aiming to reach the broadest possible audience, Riggs made videos for public television, but he resisted the conventions of talking-head documentaries, using innovative approaches to construct provocative, layered, and lucid works that have maintained an enduring presence at film festivals, cinemas, and universities internationally.
Riggs was diagnosed with HIV while making Tongues Untied, but continued to advocate for gay rights and the end of the silence around the illness both on and off screen. His final film, Black Is . . . Black Ain’t (1995)—completed posthumously by his collaborators—is a sweeping investigation of the heterogeneous nature of African American identity, suggesting the need for inclusive definitions of blackness that transcend patriarchal and homophobic barriers to community.
Celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Tongues Untied and nearing twenty-five years since the release of Black Is . . . Black Ain’t, this retrospective includes all of Riggs’s films along with works by filmmakers addressing similar issues in a variety of innovative ways.
United States, 1995
- Thursday, September 19 7 PM
Riggs’s richly textured exploration of black American identity was his final work, completed by colleagues after his death. It features appearances by Angela Davis, bell hooks, Cornel West, Essex Hemphill, and Bill T. Jones, among other luminaries.
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/black-is-black-aint
Marlon Riggs, Peter Webster
United States, 1981
- Thursday, September 26 7 PM
Riggs and Peter Webster’s thesis project reflects on the heyday of Oakland blues in the late 1940s and ’50s, chronicling the city’s vibrant past while revealing an uncertain present. With Karen Everett’s profile of Riggs, I Shall Not Be Removed.
Peter Adair, Nancy Adair, Veronica Selver, Andrew Brown, Robert Epstein, Lucy Massie Phenix
United States, 1977
- Friday, October 18 7 PM
Perhaps the first feature-length documentary on gay and lesbian identity, and still relevant today, this film features interviews with a diverse group of individuals, including poet Elsa Gidlow, activist Sally Gearhart, inventor John Burnside, civil rights leader Harry Hay, and filmmaker Nathaniel Dorsky.
United States, 1989
Tongues Untied is also presented in a free screening on Monday, November 25 (with Ken Light, Darieck B. Scott, and Leila Weefur in conversation).
- Wednesday, October 23 7 PM
Riggs’s riveting combination of interviews, performance, stock footage, autobiography, poetry, and dance reveals the revolutionary potential of black men loving black men. With Riggs’s short Anthem.
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/tongues-untied
- Friday, October 25 4 PM
This program puts the work of Marlon Riggs in conversation with that of other artists reflecting on, affirming, and celebrating their identities, including Julie Dash, Isaac Julien, Thomas Allen Harris, and Brontez Purnell.
United States, 1986
- Friday, November 1 4 PM
Riggs interrogates how material culture perpetuates racial stereotypes in this powerful and unblinking work. Followed by Color Adjustment, in which Riggs extends his examination to network television.
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/ethnic-notions
United States, 1996
- Saturday, November 2 8 PM
Cheryl Dunye’s first feature, on a lesbian video-store clerk and would-be filmmaker who becomes obsessed with the career of an early “race film” star, is “funky screwball comedy in the key of queer” (B. Ruby Rich).
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/watermelon-woman
Thomas Allen Harris
United States, 1995
- Friday, November 22 7 PM
Thomas Allen Harris explores the intersections of race, family, and sexuality in this pioneering essay film, which focuses on three groups of queer black siblings, including the director and his brother.
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/vintage-families-of-value
United States, 1989
Tongues Untied also screens Wednesday, October 23 (with Elena Gross and Vivian Kleiman in conversation; regular admission prices apply).
- Monday, November 25 6:30 PM
Riggs’s riveting combination of interviews, performance, stock footage, autobiography, poetry, and dance reveals the revolutionary potential of black men loving black men.
More details: https://bampfa.org/event/tongues-untied-free-screening