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The Rife Team

Hardie Writes: Cinema Rediscovered 2022: Day 3

Still from Finding Christa, part of Cinema Rediscovered

Welcome to Rife Magazine’s  Day 3 coverage of the hotly anticipated film festival Cinema Rediscovered!

Identity is an aspect of my life that I grapple with on a daily basis. Throughout my childhood, I had passed as white, with the questions of my ethnicity only rearing its head when my curly hair grew out. Since broadening my horizons and entering more diverse spaces as an adult, I can finally understand what those teasing comments about my lips really alluded to. Yet, as I tick those mandatory boxes on inclusion forms to ensure corporations aren’t interviewing the same five faces (but hiring them anyway), I still feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. It’s these notions that underline one of the strangest double bills I’ve seen in an intimate Day 3 of Cinema Rediscovered.

It’s a powerful piece about choice and identity

My evening started with Finding Christa, a documentary from 1991 written, directed and starring L.A artist Camille Billops. During Billops’ twenties, she gave up her 4-year-old daughter Christa for adoption and travelled to Egypt with James Hatch (soon to be husband and co-director of this piece), further pursuing her artistic craft. 20 years later, Billops received a tape from Christa containing a song and a request to meet. This film details the thoughts and feelings of family and friends during such a tough time alongside Christa’s childhood with her foster family, before they finally reconnected. Admittedly, some of the interactions feel re-enacted or there had been multiple takes as Billops’ friends are not trained actors, but you cannot replicate the raw emotion on display from the various talking heads. Christa’s foster mum, an Oakland Jazz Singer known as Rusty Carlyle, is especially passionate describing Christa’s upbringing as well as the importance of finding the birth mother despite the potential consequences. It’s a powerful piece about choice and identity from Billops’ perspective, feeling obligated to have the child despite being a single mother and accepting life would be better for her child elsewhere, but also for Christa, struggling with that feeling of belonging and that a part of you is missing.

Inexplicably, this feeling of belonging elsewhere is how the second feature shown at the Wonderful 20th Century Flicks began.

Still from Nightbreed, part of Cinema Rediscovered

What unfolds is over 90 minutes of blood, gore, explosions and body horror that refuses to take a breath

Written and directed by British horror legend Clive Barker, Nightbreed stars Craig Sheffer as Aaron Boone, a man frequently haunted by a fantastical place containing monsters called Midian, despite the pills he’s taking prescribed by Dr. Philip Decker (David Cronenberg). Yet, these nightmares turn out to be a reality when Boone discovers Midian under a cemetery outside of town whilst escaping from the police after being accused of murder. Now, the livelihood of the Nightbreed is at stake with only Boone and his plucky, empathetic girlfriend Lori (Anne Bobby) can save them. What unfolds is over 90 minutes of blood, gore, explosions and body horror that refuses to take a breath. Chase scenes are accompanied by a tusked man playing the drums giving that extra intensity before heads literally explode in shootouts. The intricate details of each monster are incredible, some of which are only on screen for a couple of seconds. There is so much crammed in here, yet several story points missed because of studio interference, highlighted by an excellent introductory speech from Adam Murray of Bristol Black Horror Club. Murray also brought attention to the several allegories regarding race and being outcasted from society shown in Nightbreed, something I especially agree with as it ramped up towards the third act.

Still from Nightbreed, part of Cinema Rediscovered

These two films presented the bittersweet feeling that my identity crisis is one of the significant factors I do have in common within marginalised communities. Yet, it is beautiful that two completely different movies in style, tone and budgets can convey such emotions whilst both be uniquely entertaining. Leaving 20th Century Flicks at midnight and having a group photo on the Christmas Steps also reminded me that I am a part of a community, one united by cinema.

Did you get a chance to visit Cinema Rediscovered? Let us know on our socials!

Please note: This event finished in July 2022