The Films of Camille Billops and James Hatch

"The filmmakers develop a distinctive, stylistically original, and practically effective framework of both image and staging in order to unleash pent-up words and emotions."

The Films of Camille Billops and James Hatch

Complete Retrospective Program

As featured in Deadline, Hyperallergic, The New Yorker and Screen Slate

Suzanne, Suzanne (1982) 4K Restoration

Older Women and Love (1987) 2K Digitization

Finding Christa (1991) 2K Digitization

The KKK Boutique Ain't Just Rednecks (1994) 2K Digitization

Take Your Bags (1998) 2K Digitization

A String of Pearls (2002) 2K Digitization

Upcoming Dates Theater City Tickets
May 24, 2024 Tarifa-Tanger African Film Festival Tanger, Spain Purchase Tickets
Past Dates Theater City Tickets
Feb 3-9, 2023 BAM Brooklyn, NY Purchase Tickets
Special screenings on Feb 3, 4 & 5
January 29-February 3, 2023 IFFR Cinema Regained Rotterdam, The Netherlands Purchase Tickets
February 7, 2023 KASKcinema Ghent, Belgium Purchase Tickets
February 16, 2023 Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts 2023 Chicago, IL Purchase Tickets
February 23, 2023 Maysles Cinema Harlem, NY Purchase Tickets
Special screening with Thomas Allen Harris and Nzingha Kendall, moderated by Ayanna Dozier
Feb 24-26 Winnipeg Film Group Winnipeg, Canada Purchase Tickets
February 26, 2023 VIFF Vancouver, Canada Purchase Tickets
March 15, 2023 Indie Memphis Memphis, TN Purchase Tickets
March 17-20, 2023 Coral Gables Art Cinema Miami, FL Purchase Tickets
Special screenings with Stephen Charbonneau and Dr Terri Francis
March 25, 2023 Patois Festival New Orleans, LA Purchase Tickets
Special screenings with Kai Barrow and Ada Gay Griffin
March 29, 2023 SIFF x LANGSTON x Grand Illusion Seattle, WA Purchase Tickets
April 7-9, 2023 Gateway Film Center Columbus, OH Purchase Tickets
April 11, 2023 FilmScene Iowa City, IA Purchase Tickets
May 4-12, 2023 Lightbox Film Center and Scribe Philadelphia, PA Purchase Tickets
Special screening with Valerie Smith at Scribe
May 4, 2023 Documenta Madrid Madrid, Spain Purchase Tickets
May 9-11 2023 Cineteca Madrid Madrid, Spain Purchase Tickets
May 11, 2023 Young Barbican London, UK Purchase Tickets
June 10-11, 2023 TIFF Cinemateque Toronto, Canada Purchase Tickets
July 15-16, 2023 National Gallery of Art Washington, DC Register Now
Introduced by Ayanna Dozier. Jul 16
July 28-29, 2023 Gene Siskel Film Center Chicago Purchase Tickets
Followed by a discussion with Prof. Lakshmi Padmanabhan. Tickets include a post-screening reception and a complimentary glass of wine. Jul 28
Followed by a discussion with Prof. Natalie Bullock-Brown, documentary filmmaker, and founding member of the Documentary Accountability Working Group. Jul 29, 3PM
Followed by a discussion with Naeema Torres, Interim Executive Director, Mezcla Media Collective. Jul 29, 6 PM
August 17- 24, 2023 Barbican London, UK Purchase Tickets
August 2023 Showroom Cinema Sheffield, UK Purchase Tickets
September 10, 2023 Open City Documentary Festival London, UK Purchase Tickets
September 16, 17 and 20, 2023 Spacy Dallas, TX Purchase Tickets
October 1, 2023 Row House Cinema Pittsburgh, PA Purchase Tickets
October 3 and 10, 2023 Peckhamplex London, UK Purchase Tickets
October 12-13, 2023 UCLA Film & Television Archive Los Angeles, CA Free Admission
March 2024 Instituto Moreira Salles Sap Paolo, Brazil Purchase Tickets

Now Available for Bookings

"Camille Billops and James Hatch raised awareness and concern about the "isms" (racism, classism, and ageism) embedded in the complex narratives that have shaped American culture, politics, and identities throughout American history."

The first-ever worldwide theatrical retrospective of the complete films of Camille Billops and James Hatch centers Black cultural life and storytelling on screen with six autobiographical works that innovate documentary form and artfully weave together personal histories and social issues.

The films of Camille Billops and James Hatch have previously screened at festivals and cultural institutions internationally. A String of Pearls, Take Your Bags, and Finding Christa were selected for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Finding Christa won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, and Take Your Bags was also selected. Suzanne, Suzanne and Finding Christa were selected for New Directors/New Films (ND/NF), the annual festival held by the Museum of Modern Art and Film at Lincoln Center. Take Your Bags, The KKK Boutique ain't Just Rednecks, and Suzanne, Suzanne were selected for International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). Finding Christa was part of the 1993 Whitney Biennial.

This worldwide theatrical release is presented by Third World Newsreel in cooperation with Dion Hatch and the Hatch-Billops Collection Estate. This program is made possible through support from the Ford Foundation. The new 4K restoration of Suzanne, Suzanne is by IndieCollect with thanks to Sandra Schulberg, Eva Yuma and team. Third World Newsreel is thrilled to unveil a new trailer for this special theatrical release.

"Their films are experimental documentaries that move and challenge critics, students and general audiences alike..."

"Partners in life, art, and activism, path-forging filmmakers Camille Billops and James Hatch made six non-fiction films together... thematically threaded by deeply personal and honest investigations of love, trauma, Black American culture and its appropriation..."

"Heartrending, fearlessly personal meditations..."

Camille Billops and James Hatch

Camille Billops (1933-2019) was a fearless filmmaker, artist, sculptor, historian, archivist, and staunch supporter of Black art and artists. Billops came into her own within the converging contexts of the 1960s civil and human rights struggles, New York's emerging Black artists movement, and her personal struggles for affirmation. Her work is autobiographical, interpretive, and challenging. Without apology, she successfully drew from her life's experiences, her education, and her observations of the world around her to carve out a space for her voice to be heard. She and her husband James made their loft in SoHo a hub for artistic collaborations, collecting thousands of books, documents, photographs, and ephemera related to Black culture. They held salons with Black artists, performers, and musicians, and recorded more than 1,200 oral histories, which were published in an annual journal called Artist and Influence.

James V. Hatch (1928-2020) was a historian of Black theater who taught English and theater at the City College of New York for three decades. He has written and co-written more than a dozen books, including "The Roots of African American Drama: An Anthology of Early Plays, 1858-1938" (1990), which he edited with Leo Hamalian, and "Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson" (1993), about the titular Black poet and playwright.

To learn more about the Billops-Hatch archives, visit Emory University's Still Raising Hell online exhibit .

"Camille Billops and James Hatches film work deeply affected my practice as an artist working in non-fiction media. Their courageous personal autovisual investigation into family, memory, archive and the imagination ignited in me my personal journey of discover within the psychic-social terrain of family, community and identity."

Suzanne, Suzanne

Suzanne, Suzanne (1982)

This poignant documentary profiles a young Black woman—Billops' niece Suzanne Browning—as she confronts a legacy of physical abuse and its role in her descent into substance abuse. Family remembrances reveal the truth behind her addiction: Suzanne and her mother were victims of domestic abuse at the hands of the family patriarch. Suzanne 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. Watch Trailer.

"Remains one of the most powerful documentaries of domestic life."

Older Women and Love

Older Women and Love (1987)

Through interviews and dramatizations, this taboo-shattering film offers a touching and often humorous look at social attitudes toward relationships between older women and younger men. The filmmakers are involved on both sides of the camera as they direct their multiracial cast in an insightful profile of older-younger relationships, while their subjects are candid and comfortable discussing the joys and problems of loving someone of a different generation. Watch Trailer.

"Dispels myths about the type of sexual life older women enjoy... focusing on strong women who battle to get their way and who also pay the price by taking risks..."

Finding Christa

Finding Christa (1991)

This startlingly personal documentary presents a moving yet unsentimental view of motherhood and adoption. It explores the feelings surrounding the reunion of a young woman with her birth mother twenty years after being given up for adoption. The reunion is between filmmaker Camille Billops and her own daughter, Christa. Facing the re-encounter with mixed emotions, Billops interrogates her family and friends as well as her own motivations. The result is an original and daring work that challenges social biases about adoption and offers new insight into mother-daughter relationships. Watch Trailer.

"Full of expressions of sponteneous emotion, it is terrifically artful..."

"For Camille Billops, autobiography is a means to a new black documentary style."

The KKK Boutique Ain't Just Rednecks

The KKK Boutique Ain't Just Rednecks: A Docu/Fantasy about Everybody's Racism (1994)

Camille Billops and James Hatch trace the ways in which Americans have tried to ignore, deny, suppress, contain, tolerate, legislate, mock, and exploit racial discrimination within the United States. Like a modern-day Virgil and Dante, they drive, cajole, and lead their cast through a tour of the contemporary landscape of racism. Watch Trailer.

Best Docu-Drama, National Black Programming Consortium / Black Public Media (1994)

"Polemically essayistic tour (de force) through the history and presence of racial segregation in the US."

Take Your Bags

Take Your Bags (1998)

Camille Billops explores the legacy of slavery and the theft of cultural memory. In Take Your Bags, the filmmaker shares her take on slavery, "when the Africans boarded the ships bound for America, they carried in their bags all their memories of home. When they arrived in the New World, their bags had been switched... Many generations later, the children of these Africans toured the Museum of Modern Art to see the sculptures and art of Picasso, Braque and Matisse. Lo! There were the beautiful icons of their ancestors, the images that had been stolen from their bags." This film was commissioned by the National Black Arts Festival and by filmmaker Louis Massiah, the founder and director of Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia. Watch Trailer.

International Film Festival Rotterdam (1999)

Toronto International Film Festival (1999)

Sundance Film Festival (1999)

A String of Pearls

A String of Pearls (2002)

In the final installment of her acclaimed Family Trilogy (which also includes Suzanne, Suzanne and Finding Christa), Camille Billops turns the camera on four generations of men in her family and considers the ways in which urban violence, unemployment, and the early deaths of their own fathers have shaped their lives. Watch Trailer.

Toronto International Film Festival (2002)

A Third World Newsreel Release with the support of Ford Foundation and the cooperation of Dion Hatch and the Billops-Hatch Archives. TWN Exhibitions are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Bookings: Malkah Manouel - Trailer: Clementine Narcisse - Poster: Xan Black - Press: Allison Lambdin

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TWN is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Color Congress, MOSAIC, New York Community Trust, Peace Development Fund, Ford Foundation, Golden Globe Foundation, Kolibri Foundation and individual donors.