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Losing Ground

Collins grew up in New Jersey during the period between WWII and the Civil Rights Era and received a BA in philosophy and religion before pursuing a Master’s at the Sorbonne in French cinema and literature. She directed only two films before her premature death from cancer in 1988. Losing Ground, the first feature directed by an African-American woman, remains Collins’ best-known work. Her comedy-drama follows a trapped philosophy professor (longtime collaborator Seret Scott in a role based on Collins’ own experiences), whose artist husband (Bill Gunn) enters into an affair while they navigate their increasingly tense relationship. At its core, Losing Ground is a story about creative exploration and existential longing for true experience within the twin contexts of marriage and the postmodern world. “Sometimes creative and artistic individuals provide the world with artifacts that may exceed the limited cultural and political aims of a particular moment. But if she and her art are really good, though we are not quite ready, they will wait for us to catch up and discover their beauty, truth, and meaning: Even if it means doing so from the afterlife. Such is the case with Kathleen Collins and the films she left us with.”—LaMonda Horton-Stallings.

Genres: Drama