Last night I attended Black Radical Imagination, an experimental shorts presentation, at MOCA here in LA. Black Radical Imagination tours internationally, and has been doing so for a number of years now. It features works by filmmakers from the African Diaspora, and this year’s selection was very diverse not only in terms of who was making the films but also what sort of films were being made.
I enjoyed a number of the six shorts, but the one that truly blew me away was called Everybody Dies!, a blackly comic piece by Ghanian filmmaker Frances Bodomo. If you’re a festival person you may have seen Bodomo’s other work – she’s played at Sundance and SXSW. Everybody Dies! takes the form of a VHS recording of a children’s show about Ripa the Reaper, a being who attends to the antechamber of death. From what we can tell in the short, it seems as if Ripa’s role is to usher black children from life to death… and events on Earth have truly been getting to her. What happens when even an aspect of death finds the carnage visited upon black communities to be too much?