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INTERRUPTED

PROLOGUE TO A MEM-NOIR

a memoir short about the explosive history of anti-Blackness in America and its lasting effects

TRAILER:

written, directed, & performed by Pamela Woolford

"Memory is a momentous thing."

RUN TIME:

20 minutes

COMPLETION YEAR:

2020

Beautiful, poignant, and brilliant. Pamela Woolford sums up American history in 20 minutes." --Dr. Arica Coleman, ethnic studies scholar and Time Magazine contributor

SOUNDTRACK:

"A Personal Story" (1964), written by Bob James, performed by Eric Dolphy and the Bob James Trio (with Ron Brooks and Robert Pozar), and sung by David Schwartz. Courtesy of Resonance Records.

The "film moved and fascinated me. It is incredibly powerful and poignant... I love the way [Pamela Woolford] weave[s] together individual and collective memory." --Françoise Bouffault, director, New York African Film Festival

SCREENINGS:

Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-Noir will screen on a loop at the 2022 gallery show Up/Rooted: Pamela Woolford's Cabin Windows. To be notified, join our email list.

Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir was released online for a limited period in September and October 2020 to much acclaim and 1.5 thousand attendees of the virtual film-premiere event. Several universities and organizations have contacted us about additional screenings. If you'd like to arrange for a screening through your group, organization, or educational institution, please contact us at generationthemovie@gmail.com or by using the link below.

Her artwork is honest and vulnerable, and in this film in particular she gives us raw access to the overwhelming trauma Black Americans have faced throughout this country’s history. The script definitively lays out a catalog and history that has been largely overlooked by white America, not only in narrative but in fact.... What we’re left with is the pain of knowing that it is only the tip of the iceberg." --Lindsey Yancich, gallery manager, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery

THE PREMIERE EVENT

ART AS A RESPONSE TO ANTI-BLACKNESS

Pamela Woolford (top left); Joseph Lewis, founder of Black Bottom Film Festival (right); author Marita Golden (bottom left); musician Bob James (bottom center).

On Monday, September, 28, 2020, Pamela Woolford held her online film-premiere event Art as a Response to Anti-Blackness, a discussion inspired by her limited fall release Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir. The event was attended by more than 1.5 thousand people. Panelists were jazz-great Bob James, who composed the film's soundtrack; NPR Best Book Author and two-time NAACP Image Award-nominated author Marita Golden; and Joseph Lewis, founder of Black Bottom Film Festival and executive director of Jazz Bridge. Lindsey Yancich, gallery manager at Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery spoke on the art of interdisciplinary-artist Pamela Woolford, who participated on the panel. Andy Shallal of Busboys and Poets and Dr. Charles Chavis of George Mason University cohosted.

A “brave and powerful (and necessary) work of art.” --Bob James

Art as a Response to Anti-Blackness is an event in the A.C.T.O.R. series (A Continuing Talk On Race). Co-sponsored by Busboys and Poets and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, A.C.T.O.R. is the longest running race dialogue in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area and possibly the nation, providing a venue for intimate and at times difficult conversations around race since 2005.

[S]tunning and breathtaking... [Pamela] allowed [herself] to claim the anger that the experience of being a Black citizen of this country has engendered... Women often are silenced. ...Black women especially are often demonized for expressions of authenticity and honesty, but I really found myself...hypnotized by [her] voice and [her] willingness to go where actually many of us don’t want to go, whether we’re white or we’re Black… [Pamela’s] monologue is just important for all Americans to see. It’s not just [her] as a Black person witnessing to Black people. It’s [Pamela] as an American citizen witnessing to the world." --Marita Golden

SUPPORTERS:

The online premiere of Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir was made possible with the generous financial support of United Way of Central Maryland; Mosaic Center for Culture and Diversity at University of Maryland Baltimore County; Maryland State Arts Council; and Leah Mazur and Drew Willard and the generous in-kind support of Busboys and Poets; Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery; Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University; St. Mary’s College of Maryland Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies; Bob James; Resonance Records; Elite Planning and Marketing; and Mary Ann McGrail.

Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir Movie Poster
a powerful work" --Dr. Charles Chavis, Director for the John Mitchell, Jr. Program for History, Justice, and Race at George Mason University

ABOUT THE SOUNDTRACK &

ANTI-BLACKNESS

Bob James composed the 15-minute avant-garde jazz piece “A Personal Statement” in 1964 centered on the operatic vocal line “Jim Crow might one day be gone” and performed by his trio and the hugely influential, late jazz-great Eric Dolphy. (It appears on the 2018 Resonance Records Eric Dolphy album Musical Prophet.)

"It was amazing and very flattering that she chose this piece from so long ago,” Bob James states. “It would mean a lot to me to have this music find a new life in this film.”

Not long after recording "A Personal Statement," Eric Dolphy left the U.S. for Europe to tour with Charles Mingus and be with his fiancee, classical dancer Joyce Mordecai, whom he would never marry, as anti-Blackness allowed his life to be cut short in West Berlin, languishing in a hospital bed untreated for a treatable illness. He was in a diabetic coma, but no doctor tested his blood-sugar levels or diagnosed his diabetes because, as a Black musician, the teetotaler was assumed to be suffering from a drug overdose.

Eric Dolphy's diabetes was never diagnosed because he was Black, he never emerged from the coma, and he never lived past 36.

PEOPLE & PLACES

Pamela Woolford on set for Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir, as a resident at NES Artist Residency in Iceland. (Photos by Bridget Turner.)

Interdisciplinary artist Pamela Woolford wrote and researched the script for Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir over a period of months in 2019 in her hometown of Columbia, Maryland; during a writing retreat in Paris, France; and as a resident at NES Artist Residency in Skagaströnd, Iceland, where she enlisted fellow NES-resident Australian photographer Daniel James Grant for the film's cinematography.

Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir is shot in a wooden studio and captured from one angle throughout. Pamela is the director, editor, and sole talent onscreen.

I finally had time to sit and watch it. To really see it. To ingest it and to suffer with it. I am so taken by it, and so disheartened over all the facts about what racism does to our souls and how pervasive it is. I am so moved. And I think back to the times when I voted as a young woman (I am 8 years older than [the filmmaker]). I don’t have memories like [hers]. As I sit here typing this, I know that I contribute to the system with the votes I have cast. Did I vote for Bill Clinton? Shit. Maybe. I don’t remember having strong feelings about any of it at that time in my life--I was too busy being [in my] 20s and 30s. I was reaping the privilege of being white and never having to think about it or about the ramifications of what it meant. Thank you [to Pamela] for [her] film. Thank you for [her] work. Thank you for the honor to be witness to this and to walk as best I can alongside in solidarity. With deep respect" --artist Sanzi Kermes

Pamela's filmmaking awards include a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for screenwriting, the 2019 Black Continental Independent Movie Award for Originality and jury-award nomination for Best Short Film, the 2019 CR8:BLK Black Women Cinema Week Audience Choice Award, a 2018 North Beach American Film Festival Jury Award, a 2018 Canada Shorts Award of Commendation, and a 2018 Experimental Forum award for vision and unique contribution to cinema.

Postproduction is performed by American sound designer Gregory Robinson, whom Pamela met while in Paris, and visual-effects editor Michael Glasco, who has created visual effects on films in the Star Wars, Star Trek, Transformers, Iron Man, and Chronicles of Narnia series. The film's associate producer is Pamela's octogenarian mother, Rev. Sadie Woolford, who is also a writer and was executive producer of Pamela's multi-award-winning film Generation.

Screenshot from postproduction for Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir.
[W]hen I watched, I had no doubt in my mind why textbooks were written the way they were with things left out of the 'story' we’re supposed to think about our country...and why media usually wants us to pay attention to the miseries of other countries so we focus on being 'fortunate.' Hopefully, [Pamela’s] work will leave more with their eyes wide open…!" --Marlena Jareaux, chair of Howard County Lynching Truth & Reconciliation

THE FILM & ITS NAME

The script for Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir comes from the prologue to a book Pamela Woolford was writing at the time of filming, a memoir entitled Carter, Clinton, Trump: A Mem-noir. The book has since been reimagined, with Pamela focusing solely on the Carter years of her childhood, living in a planned integrated American town amidst the legacy of the country's enslavement of Black people like her.

The new book title is Disrupt/ed (a mem-noir) and is upcoming.

Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir was originally scheduled to premiere at a solo show of Pamela Woolford’s work at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery in Washington, DC, as part of her multidisciplinary memoir exhibition. Due to the new coronavirus, her gallery show opening has been postponed to April 2022.

Screenshots from Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir Postproduction.

CONTACT:

We can be contacted here.

#MemNoir

mem-noir: [mem-nwär] NOUN, A memoir, written in short paragraphs or verse, concerned with being a person of the Black race within the context of a specified subject, time period, or circumstance. Visual art or photographs, especially biographical in nature, are often incorporated.

With the creation of Disrupt/ed (a mem-noir), Woolford originates the term "mem-noir."

Photo: Pamela Woolford at NES Artist Residency in Iceland, where she conceived, completed the script for, and shot the film Interrupted: Prologue to a Mem-noir as a prologue to her memoir. (Photo by Bridget Turner.)

For more info on Pamela Woolford:

Interrupted is supported in part by Maryland State Arts Council.