Ethics & Aesthetics


Cinema Detroit and Detroit Narrative Agency (DNA) present Aesthetics, an intentional space for Black, Brown, Indigenous, Immigrant, Indigenous, Disabled, Poor/Working Class, Queer, Trans*, non-binary, Women and Femme people to view media projects and films relevant to them and to reflect on their form, content, and technique.

The Ethics and Aesthetics series is inspired by the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and more specifically by the work of Larry Neal, a Black theatre artist and scholar and a key contributor to the Movement. In 1968, Neal wrote a highly influential article, "The Black Arts Movement," in which he examined the contradiction of the Black Aesthetic being influenced by and/or catering to a white gaze. “It is a profound ethical sense that makes a Black artist question a society in which art is one thing and the actions of people, another. The Black Arts Movement believes that your ethics and your aesthetics are one.” Thus our series seeks to encourage and promote those who are underrepresented in the mainstream commercial film industry and tell stories in their own voices.
All discussions from 2020 and 2021 have been archived below.

2020 shows

Gender Justice Kaleidoscope

Eight perspectives on the intersections of gender and multitude of experiences from Black filmmakers across the diaspora.
Friday, July 24 - Allied Media Conference

Mothering and Caregiving for Liberation

These films honor Black and Indigenous Mothers and Caregivers, and portray them in their full complexity and power.
Saturday, July 25 - Allied Media Conference

Growing Our Souls

Growing Our Souls included short coming-of-age films for, by, and about girls, women, and feminine-of-center people as they find themselves, experience joy and pain, and navigate life's complexities. Also included were Radical Remedies: Collective Healing and Power Through Story — short videos made by Detroiters and other Michigan residents that were part of DNA’s rapid response project to address the dual pandemics of the coronavirus health crisis and anti-Black violence. 
Thursday, September 24 - Presented online and at Cinema Detroit's Herman Kiefer Drive-in

Footnotes on the Black Experience

Through organized resistance, uprisings, intimate reflections, and slow motion meditations, these films breathe life into multidimensional Black experiences in America/Turtle Island. Films included:
Silence Sam — Directed by Courtney Symone Staton
Right On — Directed by Zachary Cunningham
Witness — Directed by Marie Alarcon
All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk — Directed by Angela Tucker
Thursday, October 29 — Presented online

Reclaiming Home/Land

These films illuminate the connections between Detroit/Waawiiyaatonong/Anishinaabe, Palestinian, and Haitian points of view on home, land, and memory. Films included:
your father was born 100 years ago and so was the Nakba
In this short film, director Razan AlSalah pays heartbreaking tribute to the first generation of Palestinian refugees. The filmmaker imagines her grandmother, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon, returning to her hometown Haifa via current Google Street Views, the only means she could have had of visiting her lost home.
Apátrida (Stateless) — Directed by Michele Stephenson
In this documentary, electoral hopeful Rosa Iris' grassroots campaign reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Corktown — Directed by Carmensita J Buentello
Solidarity: First Your Liberation And Then Mine — Directed by Inside Southwest
Each Other/Uno al otro — Directed by Adela Nievez Martinez
Friday, November 20 — Presented online

2021 shows

Healing Land & Spirit - Presented online July 15
Reclaiming Family & Origins - Presented in person August 20
Breaking & Transforming Patterns - Presented online October 21