From 24 November through 29 November, the FRINGE! Queer Film and Arts Fest took place in East London. Last year I wasn’t able to attend, and this year I was also out of town for much of the festival dates, but I was able to schedule that my Meet Up group attend the second screening of Women and the Word: The Revival Movie. A few days before the screening, one of the organizers wrote me that Jade Foster, the executive producer of the film and founder of the tour, would be in attendance and available for Q&A after the screening.
The film is a documentary that follows seven Black women, who travel through the US, beginning in Brooklyn and ending in DC, in a minivan for seven spoken word / poetry / performance shows that are (mostly) held in living rooms. Directed by Sekiya Dorsett a funny, heart-opening, and inspiring story is told in just 90 minutes.
In opening with the incredibly personal and powerful words of Jade Foster, whose delivery effortlessly weaves through emotions of tragedy and triumph, the audience is immediately engaged in this documentary’s story and eager to learn as much as possible about its cast members.
Be Steadwell and her music, both as performed live as well as recorded, set the tone for our journey. Her music, which she describes as queer pop music, feels light, fun and empowering all at once. And many of her lyrics accompany the visual stories being told throughout.
Jonquille Rice aka Solsis is the host of the revival nights, and her style is raw and energizing. She knows how to get the crowd warm before each performance, and she brings the screening audience to laughter as well. Solsis’ side plot, one of trusting her intuition and stepping out on faith, has a very happy ending that is so perfect it could be scripted.
Most rhythmic, most lyric, most prolific were the words of t’ai freedom ford, a New York City high school English teacher. I left the film feeling closest to t’ai, because her poetry lets the audience in, her charm stirred thirst and created groupies, and one destination along the way takes us to meet her family in Atlanta, which is part home for me.
Elizah Turner, the tour manager, seemed to bring just the right amount of chill to the group. While she is a beautiful face to be enjoyed throughout, we don’t hear much from her. Perhaps since she’s normally behind the camera, she was somewhat reserved when in front of it. No matter; the success of this tour is obvious, so she definitely handled business.
This was one of the first public screenings of the film and I feel utterly thankful and thoroughly motivated to continue doing what I do. This film deserves two thumbs up and I hope that it makes all the festival circuit rounds, because there is nothing better than watching Black queer women centered and at the center.