Monday, March 14, 2016



   Alile Sharon Larkin is a filmmaker, artist, storyteller, children's book author, retired elementary school teacher and more.  I had the pleasure of working with her at 32nd Street/USC Visual and Performing Arts Magnet.  One of the best activities organized by the library at 32nd Street while I was the Teacher Librarian was a night of storytelling with Alile Larkin.  Her talents are astounding, her classroom was alive with the love of learning, and art, and involvement.  Her students were so lucky to have her. And I don't think she ever got the recognition she deserved as a teacher, but then again, teachers rarely do.  One good thing is that she won several VIC (Video in the Classroom) Awards from the Los Angeles Unified School District's television station KLCS.

   "Alile Sharon Larkin is an artist-educator and award-winning independent film and video maker. Larkin has been a public school teacher in Los Angeles for 25 years and has taught at 32nd Street/USC Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School since 1993. Her teaching experience ranges from pre-K to college and filmmaking is part of Larkin’s interdisciplinary curriculum. She has received nine Video in the Classroom Awards for teacher-produced films, documenting students learning about textile arts, storytelling, yoga, jazz, women’s history, Kwanzaa and African American dance."      UCLA  
BIRTHPLACE: Chicago, IL   Born May 6, 1953
USC, B.A., Humanities (Creative Writing) 1975; UCLA, M.F.A. 1982; California State University, Los Angeles, M.A. Education 1991

   "Her film, Your Children Come Back To You (1979), presents a child’s perspective on wealth and social inequality, and has screened throughout U.S. and Europe. A Different Image (1982), about an African American woman contemplating self-identity, heritage and perception, received critical praise and earned her first prize from the Black American Cinema Society, won Best Production of 1981 from the Black Filmmaker Foundation, and was named runner-up for best short film at FILMEX.

   "The screenplay of A Different Image was published in “Screenplays of the African American Experience” (Indiana University Press, 1991). Larkin’s critical essay, “Black Women Filmmakers Defending Ourselves,” appears in Female Spectators (Verso Editions, London). Larkin is currently working on a children’s music DVD, “Tie-Dye.”

Dreadlocks and the Three Bears

From Film Directors Site:

   "African-American independent filmmaker Alile Sharon Larkin burst onto the fresh and electrifying world of the black cinema movement in 1979 when she completed her production of Your Children Come Back to You while still a film student. After studying creative writing and earning a bachelor?s at the University of Southern California, Larkin entered the M.F.A. program in film and television production at the University of California, Los Angeles. Along with classmates Barbara McCullough and Carroll Blue, together they helped form the second wave of black "womanist" filmmakers.

   "Her 1979 film explores issues concerned with the "blind" assimilation of Western culture. Larkin is perhaps best known, however, for her award-winning 1982 production of the film, A Different Image. Simple in construction but powerful in message, A Different Image explores the exploitation of women's bodies and the sexism and racism of Western culture all against a backdrop of "Pan-African consciousness."

   "It is the story of Alana, a young, free-spirited African-American woman, and her best friend Vincent. Though their relationship has always been platonic, Vincent allows himself to become influenced by an older male friend, who teases him about not having "gotten over" on Alana. Vincent?s world is the real world: billboards adorned with erotic images of scantily clad women dot the highway; men?s magazines exploit the sacredness of the female body. Larkin intersperses this imagery of sexism and exploitation with a montage of other images; that of photographs of black American and African women of all shapes, sizes, hues, dress, and ethnicity?including women of cultures where various states of undress are the norm and not a means of exploitation and for the selling of products.

   "In a moment of supreme weakness, Vincent attempts to molest a tired and sleeping Alana who accuses him of rape. He has violated the sanctity of their friendship. Noting his stack of Penthouse magazines, she cries at him in desperation: "We see you! Why can't you see us?"

   "A Different Image received a great deal of well-deserved accolades and a good measure of recognition, including a first place award from the Black American Cinema Society. Though largely well-received, Larkin's work has also endured some criticism. As she has noted in various interviews, she was sometimes maligned by "radical feminists," who would have preferred that her work contain more of a general condemnation of black men. Some felt that she should align herself with white women against patriarchy. Larkin is very clear in her position on these and other issues in her essay on black women filmmakers that appears in a book edited by E. Deidre Pribram, "White feminists' insistence that black women condemn Black men is seen by many of us as a tactic . . . to divide and conquer us as a people." Further, she states, "many Black women see feminism as a "white women's movement," not at all separate from the rest of white society.?"

Your Children Come Back To You

   "Like her contemporaries, Larkin concerns herself with much more than simply "women's stories," but seeks to explore themes rarely dealt with realistically by the mainstream film industry. Issues of assimilation, Western beauty standards, sexism, stereotyping, and the history of the African-American experience are appropriate fodder for her work, just as they are for many black women filmmakers. Black women filmmakers, too, share the same difficulties, most notably the challenge of procuring funding for their work.

In addition to her work in film, Larkin is a videographer and has produced or co-produced material for television. Larkin is a co-founder of the Black Filmmakers Collective. This group of independent filmmakers, with a grant from the California Foundation for Community Service Cable Television, produced the 1984 cable program My Dream Is to Marry an African Prince. It focused on the effects that racial stereotyping has on the psyche of young black children. "I believe it is important for Black people to control their own image," she states, "Black people working in the established "Western" film industry do not have the power that we [independent filmmakers] have." In 1985 she began an examination of racism and sexism in contemporary Christianity in the production of What Color Is God.

In 1987, through a commission from the Woman?s Building, she produced Miss Fluci Moses, a documentary of the life of African-American poet and educator Louise Jane Moses. This presentation was screened on cable television. Larkin, a staunch advocate of children's education television in 1989 formed NAP productions for the purpose of producing quality education children's television and video."   PAMALA S. DEANE

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