3 // Black Future Month // Terence Nance – Film, etc.

Posted on February 3, 2012

I spend a lot of time writing about how dope Oakland is. Oh, Oakland, you’re so amazing. Everybody wishes they could be from you. Oh, Oakland. I love you so much. Oh, Oakland, walk me home and carry my books and whisper sweet occupy nothings in my ear. Oakland you’re the fantastic. Someone should write a song about how lovely your eyes are. And it’s true. ‘Cause you are, Oakland. And I know you know I love you enough to leave. See new things, meet new people, spend time building in other cities. Cheat on you a little. So here’s something that I don’t say very much in print, ’cause a lot of people already know.

Brooklyn is ill. [cue Brooklyn Thickwit readership licking shots, buck buck.] But BK knows, requires no affirmation. She is quite secure in herself — the outdoor concerts in the summer, the over crowded afro hangouts with patios and patois, the music, the music some more, the tight dark bodies that smell of rosemary and plum wine, the short blocks with tall brownstones, the fast talking young women pressed for time, the pressed hair, the beanies, the block, the popeyes, the park, the fridays at the museum, the sedans pushed by physicists from other countries, dollar vans, quarter waters, wrought iron fences, halal take out, cetera…

Brooklyn is full of cetera. The ephemeral, unnamed, beauty darting between trees, tragedy unspeakable, cetera. I lived there for a spell. Fell hard and fast, in love with a city not my own. Simultaneously reminded of The Town (oh, Oakland, sigh sigh, shrug) and challenged, outside of my comfort zone.

I met Terence in Brooklyn, against that backdrop, which is important. I’m folks with his folks. While taxi cabs were hailed outside his door, we caught up and discussed intellectual crushes. I’ve had a few. Him too. He told me he was working on a film about love. We swapped vimeo plays for about an hour, mutually inspired. We parted paths. I had a date. He had editing to do. That was it.

But this is Terence. And as you can see, he’s probably a genius. I mean, look at his hair. People who aren’t smart aren’t smart enough to know that hair should do that.

Terence Nance does a lot of things. He composes. He acts. He’s the lead singer in a group called Terence Etc. and The Et Cetera. He’s part of the MVMT collective. He’s also a filmmaker. Since our brief interaction, the love film he was working on, his most celebrated effort, “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” premiered at Sundance. That’s right. One of the most important film festivals, ever. Hope you caught wind of it during the Red Tails frenzy. In case you didn’t, here’s the trailer for the flick.

I love the animation best, mostly cause it looks how Brooklyn feels to me. Gorgeous, pained, dark, sinewy, complex. The music (which Terence wrote) moves me in the same ways. I realize how much of our art is informed by place, and though this film is a black love story, it is more specifically a New York black love story, which is neccessarily different than similar films made Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles.

I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes in Charles Burnett‘s masterpiece, Killer of Sheep.

Burnett, regarded by many as a master of film, sets his graphic, beautifully shot tale in his home, Watts. This film, as much about plot as it is about place, helped to set a cinematic standard after its 1977 release. Here’s the trailer to the film, so you can see a bit more of what moves me.

I draw an instant connection between Nance and Burnett’s work, but have a hard time articulating. I spelled on both sets of images overnight and pondered how best to write about them today. Some friends and I laughed late into the evening about painting about music, or dancing about singing. Seems equally foolish to write about movies — but I try. And where I fail, spirit steps in.

I woke this morning to a new (to me) video by Shabazz Palaces. I’d never heard of them before, though a fan of the Digable alum in the group. A friend put me on in the wee hours of morning — and when I checked the video, noticed the overlap — the love thematic, the animation in the general trajectory of Nance’s, and a direct head nod to Killer of Sheep. Give thanks. The most high connects the dots, sometimes.


Oh, and the friend that puts me on lives in Oakland, so that’s nice triangulation, too. Sometimes my city is the missing link. And I’m okay writing that, lusting after Brooklyn, from my little apartment in LA.

Thickwit applauds artistic polyglots like Nance, who speaks film, music, animation, and being fly fluently. We thank Burnett, still living in Watts, for his contribution to International Film.

And I thank you reader, for stopping by. If you like what you read, let a friend know. Put ’em on this Black Future Month hype, today. Tomorrow’s arriving faster than you know.

2 Replies to "3 // Black Future Month // Terence Nance - Film, etc."

  • Rolando Brown
    February 4, 2012 (1:48 pm)

    “But this is Terence. And as you can see, he’s probably a genius. I mean, look at his hair. People who aren’t smart aren’t smart enough to know that hair should do that.”

    Love that line.

    Love your writing.


  • Artist Date: Love Therapy « The G is for Grace
    February 9, 2012 (8:46 am)

    […] made me prematurely miss NYC.  I agree that this is definitely a New York black love story.  And no matter how much shit I talk about black New Yorkers, their energy is […]

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