Oge Egbuonu (In)Visible Portraits is a love letter to black woman and a re-education to others

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Oge Egbuonu (In)Visible Portraits is a love letter to black woman and a re-education to others.

In this Color of Conversation "(In)Visible Portraits" Director Oge Egbuonu discusses her decision to be bald and the marketing of her film as a love letter and meditation to black woman and a re-education to others.

Producer-turned-filmmaker Oge Egbuonu’s remarkable directorial debut, “(In)Visible Portraits,” was always going to debut during a fraught time in history. Three years in the making, the “Loving” and “Eye in the Sky” producer’s first documentary has been entirely crafted in the wake of numerous recent traumas inflicted on the Black community, from the continued killings of Black men by police to the deep pessimism and fear surrounding the current presidential administration, and that was before the historic protests of the last few weeks. Now, the documentary seems wildly prescient and urgent, providing a lucid look at both the past and the present that seems as if it could only be made during such pressing times.

The film’s deep reserve of talking head talent includes Joy Degruy (author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” and “America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing”), Dr. Patricia Hill Collins (professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland), Dr. Melina Abdullah (professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University Los Angeles and Co-Founder of BLMLA), and Dr. Ruha Benjamin (Associate Professor of African Studies at Princeton University and author of “Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code”). Segments are linked together through poetry readings by writer Jazimine Williams and visual accompaniments by artist Victoria Cassinova, not all of which work in the context of the narrative Egbuonu is weaving, though they add texture and speak to the filmmaker’s desire to shine a light on important women.

While each interviewee has the education and experience to illuminate various topics in a historical sense — the documentary is mostly concerned with both understanding and dismantling the many harmful labels and archetypes that have been assigned to Black women over the years, including “the mammy,” “the Jezebel,” and “the welfare queen” — the film adds a further layer of intimacy because each is also speaking as a Black woman.

It’s that open-heartedness that makes “(In)Visible Portraits” such a wonder, because as Egbuonu and her participants are illuminating an often terrible history, they are also sharing themselves on increasingly personal terms. It’s difficult not to feel as if Egbuonu and her subjects aren’t talking directly to each viewer, teaching them through history and personal experience, and that level of trust and respect demands reciprocal action.

About Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival
Established in 2002, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF) is an Academy-Award® accredited Black Film Festival where independent and established African American filmmakers can showcase, screen and promote emerging feature, documentary, and short films from across the world. The brainchild of husband and wife team, Floyd and Stephanie Rance, the MVAAFF provides a nurturing environment for African American filmmakers to test their creativity, while providing sponsors a captive audience to promote their brands among a highly discerning community of people of color.

About Run&Shoot Filmworks
Run&Shoot Filmworks, producer of the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF), is a film production company credited with creating outstanding visual work for several clients including HBO, Martell Cognac, Reebok, NBC Sports and Footlocker. For the past 18 years, Run&Shoot Filmworks has produced the MVAAFF with the primary goal of providing a positive environment where filmmakers can share their thoughts, ideas and aspirations with each other without judgement with the goal of supporting one another.

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