As the United States of America is in the midst of a paroxysm of self-evaluation about the presence of African American filmmakers and black stories in Hollywood and high-profile independent moviemaking, we spotlight a fascinating and essential director whose remarkably prodigious career over the last 20 years—deeply personal, socially acute, culturally embedded, persistently curious, and formally adventurous—has not been shown nearly as broadly as it should.
The multi-disciplinary Kevin Jerome Everson, widely recognized by festivals (Toronto, Rotterdam, Venice, Sundance, Oberhausen) and arts institutions (Whitney Museum, Centre Pompidou) with premieres and retrospectives, has created a sprawling body of cinematic work ranging from shorts to epics, bountiful in its observation—and playful re-telling and re-creation—of black experience in the United States. Its subjects are Black Americans and people of the African diaspora engaged in daily labor, sport, leisure, at work, at play, living their lives, talking of the past, family, craft, jobs; and the films’ formal qualities—durational takes, use of archival footage, staged scenarios combined with documentary practice—create a cinema suggestive of the relentlessness of daily life, as well as its beauty. Yet nothing, neither these everyday lives, nor the style of Everson’s disarming approach—which often seems like pure documentary but finds manifold ways to tweak and challenge such accepted conventions—are so straightforward.
MUBI is proud to present what, within Everson’s filmography of over a hundred works, can only be a survey of some of the essential, yet under-exposed pictures by this great American artist, including his first feature Spicebush (2005), two of Everson’s award-winning shorts, and one of his latest features, Tonsler Park (2017), about workers at an election polling station in Charlottesville, Virginia. We encourage you to immerse yourself in an entirely different side of America—and American filmmaking.