Jun 13–Aug 3, 2022

Poetic Cinema: Isaac Julien and the Sankofa Film and Video Collective

Isaac Julien, Territories, 1984, 25 min.

A programmatic series of three works, developed in concert with artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien, from the Sankofa Film and Video Collective will be screened in-person at Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center. Each screening will be accompanied by a conversation between a scholar and artist or filmmaker providing context and building on the works presented.

Curated by Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center, and BlackStar Projects.

This series is organized in conjunction with multiple cultural partners across Philadelphia including the Barnes Foundation; BlackStar Projects; and The Fabric Workshop and Museum on the occasion of the Barnes Foundation’s centennial and newly commissioned film installation, Once Again…(Statues Never Die) on view June 19 – September 4, 2022.

Captioning will be available through Access Kit, as well as ASL interpretation for each program.


Looking for Langston (1989, 45 min)
June 13, 2022
Harold Prince Theater, Penn Live Arts, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Guest speakers:

Isaac Julien, Artist and Filmmaker
Kaja Silverman, Katherine Stein Sachs CW’69 and Keith L. Sachs W’67 Professor Emerita of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania
Ja’Tovia Gary, Artist and Filmmaker


Territories (1984, 25 min) and Who Killed Colin Roach (1983, 34 min)
July 11, 2022
Harold Prince Theater, Penn Live Arts, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Guest speakers:

Maori Karmael Holmes, CEO & Artistic Director of BlackStar Projects
Thomas Allen Harris, Professor in the Practice, African American Studies & Film and Media Studies, Yale University


The Passion of Remembrance (1986, 80 min)
August 3, 2022
In conjunction with the BlackStar Film Festival
Harold L. Zellerbach Theater, Penn Live Arts, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

Guest speakers:

Coco Fusco, Artist, Writer, and Professor of Art at The Cooper Union
Louis Massiah, Documentary Filmmaker and Founder/Director of Scribe Video Center



Isaac Julien, CBE RA (b. London, 1960), is a filmmaker and installation artist who currently lives and works between London and California. His multi-screen film installations and photographs incorporate different artistic disciplines to create a poetic and unique visual language. His 1989 documentary-drama exploring author Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance titled Looking for Langston garnered Julien a cult following, while his 1991 debut feature Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Julien has participated in the Venice Biennale; the Gwangju Biennial, South Korea; Prospect 1, New Orleans; Performa 07, New York; and documenta 11, Kassel.

Julien has taught extensively, holding posts such as Chair of Global Art at University of the Arts London (2014–2016) and Professor of Media Art at Staatliche Hochschule für Gestaltung, Karlsruhe, Germany (2008–2016). He is the recipient of the James Robert Brudner ’83 Memorial Prize and Lectures at Yale University (2016). Most recently he received the Charles Wollaston Award (2017), for most distinguished work at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and in 2018 he was made a Royal Academician. Julien was awarded the title Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honors, 2017. In 2022, he was awarded the prestigious Goslarer Kaiserring Award.

Julien is Distinguished Professor of the Arts at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he leads the Isaac Julien Lab together with critic and curator, Mark Nash. The Isaac Julien Lab was designed to mirror the Isaac Julien Studio in London and is a platform where students learn about the strategies behind the production of moving images, photographic works, exhibitions and publications. The Lab aims to create innovative pedagogical methodologies, visual and sonic languages for production, exhibition and installation while examining the various aspects that concern contemporary artists and curators working in the field of media art and moving image, in relationship to current modes of research, development, exhibition, production and scenography of moving image artworks.
About Sankofa Film and Video Collective.

Sankofa Film and Video Collective was founded in 1983 by Isaac Julien, Martina Attille, Maureen Blackwood, Nadine Marsh-Edwards and Robert Crusz, who all graduated from various art colleges in London. Supported by the Greater London Council, the British Film Institute and Channel 4, among others, Sankofa was “dedicated to developing an independent black film culture in the areas of production, exhibition and audience”. The name and the logo of the collective derive from the Akan word sankofa from Ghana, meaning “return and fetch it”, represented figuratively as a bird turning its head back towards its tail, to signify “going back into the past and discovering knowledge that will be of benefit to the people in the future.”

Mon, Jun 13, 2022, 6PM
Looking for Langston–SOLD OUT
Wed, Aug 3, 2022, 2PM
The Passion of Remembrance