Director Keisha Rae Witherspoon on T and the short form / interview

Born in Miami, USA in 1980, the Jamaican-American filmmaker Keisha Rae Witherspoon has a BA in creative writing with a minor in African American studies. Her work, which is driven by interests in science, speculative fiction and fantasy, documents the unseen and unheralded nuances of diasporic peoples. She is creative director of Third Horizon, a Caribbean creative collective based in Miami which holds the annual Third Horizon Film Festival.

What was your starting point for T?

I remember quite lucidly the moment I came up with the concept for T. I was in conversation with a friend about the ways in which displaced people, particularly African Americans, have had to piece together ritual from the remains. There was and is so much cultural loss, both forced and withered by time, during the bondage of black folks. And with the hyper-violence that plagues underserved cities across the States, I found that applies very much so to ritual around death.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I’m a science fiction and fantasy Poindexter, so I’ll always relish in the paranormal and otherworldly. So the ending for me is always a highlight. I still hold my breath a bit at times. I suppose I designed the ending as closely to what I want to feel, and what I want repressed folks to feel, in real life. So it serves as a cosmic journey for me each time I watch it.

What do you like about the short form?

Whereas long form film is most often used to deliver big ideas and complete thoughts, short form, while capable of doing the same, is in my view an incredibly effective means of asking questions. It’s life in bite-size, and can swallow you up and spit you out in a matter of minutes. When done right, short form work can be any combination of exhilarating, reflective and profound.

 

photo ©Dorothea Tuch

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