Staff Picks: Akosua Adoma Owusu

Staff Picks: Akosua Adoma Owusu


Akosua Adoma Owusu, Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us (excerpt), 2019.

June 1, 2022
Staff Picks: Akosua Adoma Owusu
June 1–30, 2022
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e-flux Video & Film is very pleased to present Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Reluctantly Queer (2016) and Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us (2019) as the June 2022 edition of our monthly series Staff Picks.

Revisiting W.E.B. Du Bois’s thoughts on “double consciousness,” Akosua Adoma Owusu’s films aspire to create a third cinematic space, or what she calls a “triple consciousness.” Ranging from cinematic essays to experimental narratives, her moving-image works focus on the interaction between politics of sexuality, pop culture, folklore, and Black American and African identities.

Watch the films here.

Reluctantly Queer (2016, 8 minutes)
This epistolary short film invites us into the unsettling life of a young Ghanaian man struggling to reconcile his love for his mother with his love for same-sex desire amid the increased tensions incited by same-sex politics in Ghana. Focused on a letter that is ultimately filled with hesitation and uncertainty, Reluctantly Queer both disrobes and questions what it means to be queer for this man in this time and space.

Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us (2019, 9 minutes)
The starting point for this film is a letter from human rights activist W.E.B. Du Bois to the American embassy in Brazil. The fact that in 1927 it was impossible for African Americans to travel to Brazil reminds us of the inequality still faced by that country’s black inhabitants.

Akosua Adoma Owusu is a Ghanaian-American filmmaker, producer, and cinematographer. She currently lectures at Harvard University and at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Since 2005, Owusu’s films have screened internationally in festivals and museums, including the New York Film Festival, Berlinale Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Locarno International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, MoMA, and the BFI London Film Festival. Named by IndieWire as one of six preeminent “avant-garde female filmmakers who redefined cinema,” she was a featured artist of the 56th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar. Her recent projects include Welcome to the Jungle (2019), a multi-channel video installation made in collaboration with the CCA Wattis Institute. Her work can be found on the Criterion Channel and in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris, and the Fowler Museum at UCLA, among others. Owusu’s awards and grants include the Gardner Film Study Fellowship (2021), the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists (2020), Camargo Foundation Fellowship (2016), Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2015), Africa Movie Academy Award (2013), MacDowell Colony fellowship (2013), and Creative Capital fellowship (2012). She holds a BA in Media Studies and Studio Art from the University of Virginia (2005) and an MFA in Fine Art as well as Film and Video from the California Institute of the Arts (2008).

About the series 
e-flux Video & Film: Staff Picks is a monthly streaming series of staff picks and recommended videos designed to disrupt the monotony of an algorithm. Before the end times of big data, we used to discover suggested content along dusty shelves in video rental stores, where Post-it notes scribbled by shift workers implored us to experience the same movies that made them guffaw, scream, or weep. Sometimes the content bored us, sometimes it overwhelmed us, and sometimes, as if by magic, it was just right. e-flux invites you to relive this rental store mode of perusal, with personalized picks curated through judgment that does not take into consideration your viewing history. 

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June 1, 2022

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