D. Channsin Berry Produces – Black Line Documentary
By Ken Hare
Chicago Defender Staff Writer
From the Producer that brought you ‘The Church House’ and ‘Dark Girls’ comes D. Channsin Berry’s latest project; Black Line, which examines some of the joys and pains of being a Black woman. Screened last night at the DuSable Museum to virtually a full house of beautiful Black women, in all shapes, sizes and colors. The audience was quite true-to-life as to what we were about to witness on-screen as Black Lines opened with a provocative and emotional scene.
In the opening scene, a young fertile Black woman emerges from the sea obviously battle weary from an exhaustive journey from the motherland. As she emerges from the water, we see the heavy chains that are still bound to her body that held her captive in her seabound journey. Yet somehow, she has inexplicably managed to escape and make it to the shore alive. The scene cuts to Dr. Melina Abdulah who lays out the premise of the documentary where she articulates – Black women came from a highly civilized culture, Mother Africa, and are carriers of the culture even to this day.
The rest of the 75 minute documentary takes the audience on a personal journey through the lives of Black women across the country who fill in the details of the premise, telling their stories individually, and collectively sharing the ebb and flows of life. Producer Berry uses a series of cinematic and story telling techniques to deliver his message, although, at times the techniques interrupted the flow of the stories being told.
One such example was when the mother of Kenwood High School student, Larry Elizalde, 18, recounted how he and his friend Babatundo Kaffo, were both shot outside of Kenwood in 1991. As his mother walks you through the events that led up to his untimely and premature death; you could feel the tears welling up inside you. The story is riveting as she retraces the killer’s steps of how he started leaving the scene and looked back to see her son struggling to get up off the ground after being shot twice in the chest. The shooter, 21-year-old reported gang member, Reginald Bell went back to the scene and emptied his clip into Larry’s back. Lots of raw emotion to process.
However, the very next scene was one of merriment and laughter but felt contrived and manipulated as though Berry had forgot to give the audience time to process all the raw emotions. To balance things out a bit, Berry did have some good moments with juxtaposing, like when the former Christian sister turned Muslim, wrapped elegantly in a hijab talks about how she caught the Holy Ghost and took pride in her new faith and how it changed her life, and as she told her story, Berry inserted some hoochie mamas on screen in micro-daisy dukes in the background.
At the end of the movie, during the Q&A session, Producer Berry confessed that it took him four years to put this documentary together and he thought he knew about women going into the project but found out he knew very little. Overall, I think the documentary is decent for a night out on the town. However, the narrative doesn’t reveal anything new about Black women that hasn’t already been said and Producer Berry could’ve done a better job treating the different socio-economic classes of women he interviewed even handed.
Black Lines will screen again tonight with the following special guests in attendance:
Richard Roundtree, Actor
Dawnn Lewis, Actor/Composer/Musician/Writer
Najee, Musician/Grammy Award Nominee
D.Channsin Berry, Documentary Filmmaker
Rodney Barnes, Screenwriter
Margaret Avery, Actress/Academy Award Nominee
And other invited guests.
The DuSable Musuem is located in Wahington Park, at 57th Street and Cottage Grove Ave.. Chicago, IL. Screening starts at 7PM, doors open at 6PM.
Tickets are $25 per person, for reservations please visit https://www.dusablemuseum.org/events/details/hollywood-comes-to-the-du
Or you can call 773.947.0600 for more information.