Writer/Director Frances Bodomo created a stunning short film that follows a Ghanaian family who take their restless granddaughter to a tent revival deep in Louisiana to get her “slain in the Spirit” and cured from her rebellion. This short premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, features a knock-out performance by young Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave), and is evocatively shot on 16mm.
Bodomo made the film during her MFA program at NYU. Her subsequent short film, Afronauts, is currently being developed into a feature via the Sundance Directors Lab. This is a visionary filmmaker who I am thrilled to have discovered.
My day jobs often feel like prisons I can’t escape from. I’m an artist who wants to use her entire being in service to creative work. I want to move my body, use my voice, express my emotions, exercise my sense of humor and engage in contemplative conversations. Unfortunately I spend most of my days sitting or standing at a desk, staring at data on a screen, listening to mind-numbing discussions about finance and trying to massage the shooting carpel tunnel pains out of my wrist. Some days no one says anything to me at all and almost never does anyone ask me how I’m doing or what’s going on in my world. These are survival jobs; and while I’ve been fortunate to work for good people who allow me the flexibility to pursue my dreams, it’s still been one of my greatest battles–to accept my circumstances, to make the best of them and to decide how to move forward wisely rather than rashly in the heat of an emotional moment.
For the past few days I’ve been dealing with a nightmare of an investor–someone who gets off on treating support staff like personal slaves, as if his money gives him the right and the power to treat other human beings as less than. I was inches away from throwing in the towel this morning–just chucking everything. It’s beyond difficult to deal with entitlement when you’ve spent your entire life with very limited resources and constant sacrifice just so you can pay some kind of honor to the thing inside of you that won’t go away–that won’t be satisfied with anything less than a life lived in service to art and expression. It’s hard to choose such a thorny path when, most likely, it won’t ever be validated by a materialistic culture. You get treated like you’re stupid, unskilled or limited– when, in fact, you are none of those things.
My first instinct is to get really angry, to shove my feelings down with whatever I happen to be eating or drinking and to fantasize about how to get revenge (unrealistic fantasies to be sure). It took everything in me to stop this morning and ask myself what I really needed. Then I went into the bathroom and cried and took a lot of deep breaths and said some prayers to the universe for help. I realized in those moments that I was honoring my truest artist self. I was letting my feelings express through my body and I was validating who I really am–not a peon employee but a fully valued human being. I stopped the spinning thoughts and got present, just the way I try to do when I act. I said, this is a new moment; let go of the old one. Sometimes important shifts happen not on stage or in front of an audience but in private, in the locked stall of a public restroom.