PROLOGUE TO A MEM-NOIR
a memoir short about the explosive history of anti-Blackness in America and its lasting effects
written, directed, & performed by Pamela Woolford
"Memory is a momentous thing."
Beautiful, poignant, and brilliant. Pamela Woolford sums up American history in 20 minutes." --Dr. Arica Coleman, ethnic studies scholar and Time Magazine contributor
"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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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
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.
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 &
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
[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.