August 12, 2019  (Web Review)

The Revival: Women and the Word

(2016) 82 min. DVD: $89: high schools & public libraries; $295: community colleges; $395: colleges & universities. Women Make Movies (www.wmm.com). PPR. Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Sekiya Dorsett’s documentary captures the 2012 “Revival” tour, which showcased music and poetry from queer women of color. The idea harks back to salons in the 1970s that involved writers such as Alexis De Veaux, who cites the Harlem Renaissance as an inspiration. “It was really important to us,” she says, “to create intimacy.” The Salsa Soul Sisters did similar work in the 1980s (the group counted New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, as a member). Jade Foster, founder of the Revival tour, lost her mother to AIDS. “Poetry,” she says, “saved my life.” Be Steadwell, a musician who performs solo with a loop pedal, built an audience through videos she posted to YouTube. Poet and author T’ai Freedom Ford teaches high school English. “For me,” she says, “poetry is therapeutic.” Other participants include manager Eli Turner and host Jonquille Rice. As Dorsett’s film begins, the crew are preparing for their first show in Brooklyn, which turns out to be a smashing success. From there, the women continue on to Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Durham, and Washington D.C. In Ohio, a woman with a Confederate flag in her window calls the cops when the group parks in front of her house, and in Georgia, T’ai meets up with her mother, a former crack addict, who often appears in her work. “I loved every bit of it,” proud Mama T’ai says after the performance. Although Dorsett captures an event that took place seven years ago, she makes a compelling case that there is a continued need for queer women of color to see their lives reflected in accessible and engaging art. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)