25th June 2021 / Alice Cary
“We rarely see depictions of queer Black couples, and I really wanted to convey a sense of intimacy and joy,” muses Anna Fearon, director of Black Love Is The Revolutionary Act. In her enlivening short film, which is part of British Vogue’s annual Pride video series, couples and friends are seen “dancing for themselves, not for anyone’s gaze”, offering the viewer a “glimpse into their world”.
One particular line from Marlon Riggs’s 1989 documentary film Tongues Untied – “Black men loving Black men is the revolutionary act” – was the springboard for Fearon’s script. “I really connected with [the idea] that loving another Black queer person is almost an analogy for self-love and acceptance.”
The nuances of the concept of “home” was another key influence, which Fearon expresses in an accompanying poem. “The notion of home intrigues me and is often explored within my work. As a Black queer person, society and the language of the media can undermine your sense of belonging,” says Fearon. “For me, the word home has so many layers to it, and as a mixed race Black womxn, of Caribbean heritage, for me there is no place I could pin-point on a map and say: that is home to me. And with the added intersectionality of queerness, the poem is about finding a home within yourself rather than in a physical place or a physical body.”
Photography was Fearon’s original practice, before she “organically transitioned” into directing with her first short film The Muse for Channel 4. “I’m really enjoying working in moving image as it gives space for creating narrative-led work, but I think my gaze as a photographer influences my approach to my directing work,” she says. “With directing work, I am thinking about telling an overarching story, whereas with photography, it’s more capturing an essence. I hope as I move into longer format directing I will be able to explore ways of pushing the form of film as a way of visual storytelling.”
Black Love Is The Revolutionary Act, produced by Greatcoat Films, epitomises Fearon’s expert ability to spark rousing emotions. “For me, it is important to see celebratory images of Blackness,” Fearon explains. Viewers can’t help but feel in the mood to dance after watching her Pride short, which she hopes will “invoke a sense of joy”.
Authenticity and honesty are at the core of her work: she called upon researcher Jannine Battis to cast the couples that feature in the film. “It was important to show a diverse representation of Black queer love, both romantic and platonic love. It was really important to celebrate love within friendships; Yvonne and Jennifer have been friends for over 25 years, which is so incredible. I wanted to show queer love at different stages of life. We rarely see representations of queer love beyond youth, and I think it’s beautiful to see a variety of generations, so that we see our stories within the context of an ongoing history.”