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AFRICANS WITH MAINFRAMES a film by KIMA HIBBERT. 2023. USA. 15 min. What if electronic music was created by Black sharecroppers in the American South and Kraftwerk was actually a psyop?

This film screened exclusively for a week and is currently not available online.

This week we are pleased to collaborate with AIRTIME, an alternative streaming platform, for a presentation of Kima Hibbert’s mockumentary Africans with Mainframes. As a tacit response to the music industry’s tendency to sideline Black artists, her provocative film remixes facts and fiction to present a “Blackwashed” version of history.

 

Inspired by similar cinematic experiments in skewing the truth—Peter Watkins’ Punishment Park, Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up, Orson Welles’ F for Fake—Hibbert uses her premise to prove “that subconsciously people believe that anything of cultural capital is rooted in Blackness.” As heady as her ambitions are, Hibbert’s use of levity keeps the film grounded, rendering it an amusing meditation on the arbitrary lines that separate truth from fiction.

 

 

“As a musician and music lover, I wanted to use the mockumentary form to show audiences a skewed version of musical history, seeing how long I could suspend belief. Inspired by the genre-less works of Guy Maddin, Peter Watkins, and others, I explore a big idea with a sense of levity.” KIMA HIBBERT

 

Africans with Mainframes’ interplay between reality and fiction extended to its production. The film’s cast is mostly made up of non-actors who bring their own real-life experiences to their roles. The night-club bouncer near the end of the film is played by Demingo Graham, a retired NFL football player who actually used to work the door at clubs. And, the club he works for in the film is actually Greenpoint’s own Good Room, for which Hibbert “went in guerilla style with iPhones” to capture the present-day dance scene.

 

Brooklyn-based director and editor Kima Hibbert’s works explore different forms of communication. She was born in London, UK, to Jamaican parents, but eventually moved to New York at the age of 18. Since then, she has edited music videos for artists such as MIKE and Sampha. Her debut short, Africans with Mainframes, played at several film festivals including the New York African Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, and the Chicago International Film Festival.

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer. Special thanks to Aslı Baykal.