The Black Artists' Group: Creation Equals Movement

Directed by Bryan Dematteis
U.S. | 2020 | Documentary
49 minutes | English

SLIFF is pleased to present a work-in-progress screening of a documentary on the Black Artists' Group (BAG), which formed in the late 1960s as an arts collective devoted to raising Black consciousness, battling social injustice, and exploring the far reaches of experimental  performance. Growing out of the Black Arts Movement, BAG was unique with its blending of music, poetry, drama, dance, and the visual arts. Through its interdisciplinary approach, BAG addressed many of the day’s most pressing social issues and brought awareness to the struggles faced by Black city residents. Beyond St. Louis, BAG’s musicians became influential in Europe and in New York, where members helped to found the Loft Jazz scene. Although BAG’s life in St. Louis was brief, several of its number, including Oliver Lake and Julius Hemphill, have gone on to impressive careers as experimental jazz players. Locally, the group’s spirit lives on in the many St. Louis musicians who cut their chops learning to play in BAG’s community arts classes. Through rare archival footage and interviews with the  collective’s key players, “Black Artists’ Group: Creation Equals Movement” shines a light on this untold St. Louis story of passion, creative vision, and community. Among those featured in the film are Lake, Hemphill, Charles “Bobo” Shaw, Malinke Elliott, Hamiet Bluiett, J.D. Parran, Portia Hunt, Shirley LeFlore, George Sams, Percy Green II, Patricia Cruz, Ben Looker, and Dennis Owsley.