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Losing Ground

A philosophy professor (Seret Scott) and an artist (Bill Gunn) reach a crisis point in their marriage, in Kathleen Collins’ groundbreaking and timeless masterpiece.

Drama 1982 86 mins Not rated

Director: Kathleen Collins



Sarah (Seret Scott), a philosophy professor, reluctantly agrees to rent a holiday home in upstate New York with her husband Victor (Bill Gunn, Ganja & Hess), an artist on the verge of success. Over the course of the summer, absorbed in their work and distracted by extra-marital flirtations, they each experience profound emotional reawakenings. Look out for the sublime musical dance sequences during Sarah's film-within-a-film scenes with Duke (Duane Jones).

Denied a theatrical release, the film – one of the very first features directed by an African-American woman – was rarely screened until its restoration and belated release in 2015. A playwright and professor as well as a director, Collins was heavily influenced by the films of Eric Rohmer, but Losing Ground is also a personal reflection of her own academic career and an exploration of issues of race, class and love. It is bittersweet to contemplate the impact she would have had on the cinematic scene had she not died so young, at the age of just 46.