THE CANCER JOURNALS REVISITED

Directed by Lana Lin

Official Selection, 2019 BAMcinemaFest

“I have cancer, I am a black feminist poet. How am I going to do this now?” Intersectional long before the term existed, and one of the foremost essayists of the 20th century, Black, lesbian,and feminist poet Audre Lorde has been celebrated and adopted in countless political movements. Experimental filmmaker Lana Lin assembles over 27 women to read aloud and ruminate over the 1980 memoir The Cancer Journals, one of Lorde’s most intimate works. Within a deceivingly simple format, Lin achieves the difficult feat of reprising Lorde’s fearless vulnerability-as-pedagogy and answering The Cancer Journals’ call for criticality and collective action.

Very rarely does a film honor a literary work through close reading. THE CANCER JOURNALS, REVISITED accomplishes this, while also capturing the ways recitation itself can renew. Mixing archival footage, oration, and visual poetics, Lin delivers the special privilege of listening in, as Lorde’s words modulate through the voices of present-day women from all walks of life. A lover’s hesitation, the politics of implants, racialized medical care, economic precarity–these are the contradictions of flesh under extra duress from oppression, felt at the cellular level. Mixed in are interviews with Lorde’s daughter, a visit to the archives, a retracing of buildings significant in Lorde’s treatment, and brief uncanny glimpses of Lin’s own diagnosis. Together they consider how a body transformed by cancer might write back onto the world with Black, feminist, and queer politics. 

Poetic and urgent, eye-opening and razor-sharp, THE CANCER JOURNALS, REVISITED is the cinematic embodiment of Lorde’s deep belief in collective power. By film’s end, her critical love becomes ours to hold too, filling us with an urge to read, reflect, and speak aloud, together.

–Christina Ree

Co-Presented by Bionic Sisters Productions

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