Director: Kathleen Collins
Writer: Kathleen Collins
Directed by Kathleen Collins, a playwright and film professor at City College, New York, Losing Ground was the first feature-length film to be made by a black American woman. When the film played last year at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Richard Brody of The New Yorker called it 'a nearly lost masterwork.'
A thoughtful picture of an artistic couple at a crossroads, Losing Ground depicts black lives with a sensitivity rarely seen today. Sarah (Seret Scott) is a philosophy professor while her husband Victor (Bill Gunn, director of Ganja and Hess), an abstract painter, finds himself on the verge of a career breakthrough. He suggests they take a house in upstate New York for the summer. Victor is seduced by the light of the countryside, as well as by Celia, a Puerto Rican woman who becomes his muse. Sarah, meanwhile, explores new creative horizons by taking part in a student film production, where she finds herself working with the sympathetic, cerebral Duke (Duane Jones, best known for his role in Night of the Living Dead).
Had Kathleen Collins not died in 1988, there is no question she would have played a pivotal role in independent American cinema. Losing Ground can easily be imagined in dialogue with Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It, for example. Exploring middle-class black life in 1980s New York, it is an exhilarating, yet nimble, study of the symbiosis between life and art.