Dir. Stephanie Diane Ford, USA, 2020, 20 min.

Screening virtually. Learn more here.

So much symbolism, so much allegory, so much metaphor packed into this 20-minute short. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a creation story? Is it a spiritual manifesto? Is it an Afro-futurist psycho-thriller? Maybe it’s all of them, maybe it’s none.

Stephanie Diane Ford’s piece begins with our protagonist, naked and dirty, crawling through a hole in the wall. She’s a prisoner, though she’s unsure of her crime, and the way out is unclear. As she slowly becomes conscious of her situation, Ford taps into Arthurian legend, the Electra Complex, the Egyptian pantheon and the Book of Genesis to bring our hero through her arc.

This is a first foray into the director’s chair for Ford, whose history includes a business degree and time in Paris working towards a career in fashion before she settled in Durham to work in film.

Ultimately, “The Black Baptism” is her story, and the story of all Black women as they navigate their precarious position in the world, their struggle to overcome. And though its central message may be key to a Black woman’s survival in this hard world, it has universal appeal: Fear is a lack of imagination.

Find our full guide to RiverRun 2021 here.

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