How to understand Black art across the diaspora


L.A. Rebellion


I am not interested only in telling a story, but I want to tell it my way. I don't want my accent, my temperament, my narrative style to be compromised to fit into a mold of the Hollywood type. - Haile Gerima

The L.A. Rebellion (also known as the Los Angeles School of Black Filmmakers) was an artistic collective at UCLA between the late 1960s and early 1980s. Following the Watts Uprising and the Civil Rights Movement, a group of African-American and African students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television to create innovative, vivid, and intellectual bodies of work. They explored new possibilities for Black cinema, centered on the expression of Black dignity and pride.

Works created avoided falling in tropes such as those in blaxploitation movies. Not only were the environments of Black communities captured, but the film further explored the internal conditions of the characters – their mental and emotional states. 

This cinematic renaissance experimented with various narratives, audience engagement strategies and sought to overturn stereotypes – opting for more nuanced depictions of Black communities. The group of artists worked collectively to mentor one another and pass the torch to later incoming students over the next two decades.

Thee L.A Rebellion was an extraordinary movement, distinct because of the filmmaker’s vision, their focus on global Black liberation movements, sensitivity to gender issues and children and their continued questioning of societal structures.