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Camille Billops & James Hatch
1982
BW
30 minutes
US
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Suzanne, Suzanne

This poignant documentary profiles a young black woman's struggle to confront the legacy of a physically abusive father and her headlong flight into drug abuse. Suzanne, after years of physical and psychological abuse, is compelled to understand her father's violence and her mother's passive complicity, who suffered at her husband's hands as well, as the keys to her own self-destruction. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth.

A remarkably incisive short documentary film, much more than one woman's story of abuse and addiction, SUZANNE, SUZANNE captures the nature and spirit of a troubled family.

Reviews
“Camille Billops' devastating documentary on a young black woman's struggles to come to terms with her physically abusive father (dead at the time of the making of the film) as well as a mother, abused herself, unable to protect her children…"
- Tambay A. Obenson, Shadow and Act Blog

"Camille Billops and James Hatch’s SUZANNE, SUZANNE (1982)... interrogates the wreckage left behind in the absence of a dead parent. The subject is Billops’s niece, Suzanne, a recovering heroin addict who discusses the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her deceased father. The film’s arresting climax has Suzanne and her mother... breaking down as they share together the memory of the beatings that they’d suffered alone."
- Nick Pinkerton, Artforum

"A wrenching portrait of a woman confronting drug addiction and a legacy of abuse…"
- A.O. Scott, New York Times

"Camille Billops and James Hatch’s emotionally raw SUSZANNE, SUZANNE (82) shows Billops's own California family, torn apart from the inside by domestic violence, female body-image issues, and heroin abuse."
- Violet Lucca, Film Comment

"...examines the potential for violence and abuse that underlies the carefully tended facade of middle-class respectability..."
- Valerie Smith, Professor of English, UCLA

"This insightful 30-minute documentary profiles a young black woman, Suzanne Browning, as she confronts a legacy of physical abuse and its role in her descent into substance abuse. The film was conceived by Browning’s aunt, Camille Billops, as a sort of cinematic drug intervention. Family remembrances revealed the truth behind the addiction: Suzanne and her mother were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the family patriarch. Armed with the key to her own self-destructive behavior, Suzanne struggles to understand her father’s brutality and her mother’s passive complicity. After years of silence, Suzanne and her mother are finally able to share their painful experiences with each other in an intensely moving moment of truth. Directed by Billops and James Hatch, this film essay captures the essence of a black middle-class family in crisis."
- National Film Registry


Awards
  • National Film Registry, 2016


  • Screenings
  • New Directors, Museum of Modern Art
  • Tell It Like It Is, Film Society of Lincoln Center, 2015
  • AFI Silver Theater, 2015
  • Billy Wilder Theater, UCLA, 2015
  • One Way or Another, BAMcinematek, 2016

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    Pricing & Ordering Related Subjects            
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