Tuesday, February 21, 2023

glass being held by a hand reflecting the ocean
Still from Aline Motta's film, (Outros) Fundamentos [(Other) Foundations]

Taking Brazil’s new Black cinema as its point of departure, Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora brings together filmmakers, artists, scholars, and critics from across the globe to explore new ways of thinking about the Black diaspora.

This 2022-23 Obermann Humanities Symposium and International Programs Major Projects Award takes place March 30 – April 1, 2023, in Iowa City. Organized by Christopher Harris, F. Wendell Miller associate professor of cinematic arts at the University of Iowa; Janaína Oliveira, curator and researcher at the Federal Instituto of Rio de Janeiro; and Cristiane Lira, supervisor of Portuguese at the University of Georgia, the symposium will feature the emerging wave of young Afro-Brazilian filmmakers, curators, programmers, and scholars whose art and scholarship have already had an impact on international cinema. 

“Often in the United States, whenever the subject of diaspora comes up, it seems as if it’s very U.S. centric; it’s about Black Americans,” said Harris. “In a way, it often erases the rest of the global south in this hemisphere and is reduced to a bilateral discussion between Black people in the U.S. and the continent of Africa. I really wanted to center Brazil to bring forward another part of the diaspora that wasn’t confined to a bilateral discussion of the U.S. and Africa.” 

“There are many crossroads in the world - global politics, migration, etc. - that speak to this Frequências symposium,” said Oliveira. “I’ve been making programs featuring Black women filmmakers for a while and when it comes to the films they are making about their diasporic experiences, they’re really framing new cinematic ways of talking about the diaspora.”

Through panel discussions, interventions, film screenings, and artists’ performances, the Frequências symposium aims to incite, inspire, and engage the audience to join the organizers and participants – both scholars and filmmakers – in an act of creativity and imagination in response to the films, performances and theorizations of Afro-Brazilian film, history, and culture.

The interventions are inspired by a quote by Tina M. Campt:

"Attending to frequency is, at its core, a practice of attunement—an attunement to waves, rhythms, and cycles of return that create new formations and new points of departure.”

headshot collage
Co-organizers Christopher Harris (left), Janaína Oliveira (center), and Cristiane Lira (right)

The scholars and filmmakers’ interventions will take fascinating forms from improvisation to performance to personal reflections and more. Each intervention will last approximately 15–20 minutes.

“For those on the fence about attending Frequências, I want to highlight the idea of expecting the unexpected,” said Lira. “The word symposium sometimes feels too academic for some. Frequências is so much more than an academic event, though; it’s an artistic event, a community time event, and it’s a moment to have a dialogue, the back and forth of experiencing something new.”

“The impact the symposium will have in this moment in Brazil and the United States, and the ripple effect this will send out into the future and across the globe, this has the potential of being a landmark event for future thinking; this is a historical gathering for Brazilian filmmakers,” said Harris. 

All UI students, faculty, staff, and members of the surrounding Iowa City community are invited to attend the Frequências symposium. Events on Thursday and Saturday take place at FilmScene and events, including a video installation by internationally renowned artist Aline Motta, will be held at the Stanley Museum of Art all day on Friday.

Frequências symposium schedule

“If you’re excited about new ideas, aesthetics, and the contemporary moment, Iowa City is the place to be in March/April,” exclaimed Harris. “Those in attendance should expect the unexpected.” 

Major sponsorship for the Frequências: Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Cinema & the Black Diaspora 2022-23 Obermann Humanities Symposium & International Programs Major Projects Award provided by the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, UI International Programs, the Stanley-UI Foundation Support Organization, and the Office of the Vice President for Research Arts and Humanities Initiative Program. Generous supporters include the UI Stanley Museum of Art, Iowa City FilmScene, the UI Department of Cinematic Arts, and the UI Department of Spanish & Portuguese.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Erin Hackathorn in advance at (319) 335-4034 or erin-hackathorn@uiowa.edu.


International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.