Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni with I Be Done Been Was Is

Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni with I Be Done Been Was Is

Post-screening conversation with filmmakers Mirra Bank and Debra J. Robinson

Spirit to Spirit: Nikki Giovanni | Restoration World Premiere 
Once crowned “The Princess of Black Poetry,” the prolific and political Nikki Giovanni has become one of America’s most popular poets. This lyrical and visually provocative film details the poet’s coming-of-age against the background of her times: the Civil Rights struggle, the Vietnam War, and the Women’s Movement. Independent director and producer Mirra Bank skillfully weaves performance footage with evocative photomontage, archival footage, and colorful animation, creating a dynamic and intimate portrait of the poet. This documentary short was digitally restored in 4K from the 16mm original negatives. 

Note by Academy Film Archive Short Film Preservationist Tessa Idlewine. 
DIRECTED BY: Mirra Bank. WITH: Nikki Giovanni. 1986. 29 min. USA. Color. English. DCP. Restored in 2022 by the Academy Film Archive and the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, with support from the Leon Levy Foundation.  

I Be Done Been Was Is | Restoration World Premiere 
Debra J. Robinson’s incisive documentary examines the obstacles faced by Black women in comedy through the observations and performances by comedians Alice Arthur, Rhonda Hansome, Jane Galvin Lewis, and Marsha Warfield. Intertwining live stand-up, candid interviews, and historical context featuring iconic predecessor Moms Mabley, the film presents a not-so-distant past illustrating what it means to navigate a field dominated by whiteness and masculinity as a Black woman. Digitally restored in 4K from the original 16mm negative.  

Note by Academy Film Archive Film Preservationist Cassie Blake. 
DIRECTED BY: Debra J. Robinson. WITH: Alice Arthur, Rhonda Hansome, Marsha Warfield, Jane Galvin Lewis. 1983. 58 min. USA. Color. English. 4K DCP. Restored in 2021 by the Academy Film Archive. 
Academy Museum film programming generously funded by the Richard Roth Foundation.

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