Amandine Gay at Indie Memphis Film Festival [fr]
Director Amandine Gay was in Memphis from November 1-5 for the American premiere of her film "Speak Up" (French title: "Ouvrir la voix"), a documentary that explores the lives of black women in France and Belgium. The project turns an unflinching gaze on the experience of difference and othering to which black women are subjected and the specific clichés that continue to persist around this plural identity. The premiere took place on November 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hattiloo Theatre.
"Speak Up" is first and foremost about reclaiming narrative: It features the testimony of 24 black women, filmed in extreme close-up, recounting their experience in European society. Gay gives a voice to those who are often silenced and makes visible the faces that are underrepresented on the screen. The women discuss a variety of topics: sex, religion, racism, education. The director questions the norms of a white and patriarchal society in order to highlight the interdependence of her subjects’ multiple identities. Film critic Richard Brody noted in the New Yorker that “Ouvrir la Voix” is "as radically frank in style as in substance…It is both a vital film in itself and a virtual kit for the inspiration of other filmmakers; it’s an opening of voices and of paths.”
The film, self-produced and independently financed through a crowdfunding campaign, is Gay’s directorial debut. As an actress, she has appeared in several short films such as Céline Guénot’s “Hors de l’abri” and Klau Pas’ “Last Supper for Malthus." She is also a sociologist who studied at the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon and is very active in the Afro-feminist movement. In 2015, she wrote the preface for the new French translation of bell hooks’ classic work: "Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism."
The Indie Memphis Film Festival, founded in 1997, celebrated in its 21st anniversary this year. It features short and feature-length films as well as documentaries. It is one of the only festivals in the world to incorporate live music before each screening, with a goal of introducing filmmakers to the city’s vibrant music scene. During her stay in Memphis, Gay will also participate in the Black Creator’s Forum. This aspect of the Indie Memphis Film Festival, new for 2018, is a multidisciplinary symposium which includes fine art, music, and online content and which aims to bring together influential black film critics and directors.