At the time of her death from cancer in 1988, Kathleen Collins was just 46 years old, but she was already an internationally renowned playwright, a popular professor (at New York’s City College) and a successful independent filmmaker.
Her second film, Losing Ground tells the story of a marriage of two remarkable people, both at a crossroads in their lives. Sara Rogers, a black professor of philosophy, is embarking on an intellectual quest to understand “ecstasy” just as her painter husband Victor sets off on a more earthy exploration of joy.
Celebrating a recent museum sale, Victor decides to rent a country house where he can return to more realism after years working as an abstract expressionist. Away from the city, the couple’s summer idyll becomes complicated by Sara’s research and by Victor’s involvement with a young model. When one of her students casts Sara as the woman scorned in a film version of the song “Frankie and Johnny,” she experiences a painful emotional awakening. While dealing with strong individuals and feelings, the film is also charming - Collins described it as a comedy about a young woman who takes herself too seriously.
Kathleen Collins’ recently rediscovered relationship drama is a lost gem of African American cinema, a sensuous, smart take on love and desire with a compelling heroine at its heart and a refreshing focus on the lives of the black intellectual middle classes.
Running Time: 1hr 26mins
BBFC Advice: TBC
Director(s): Kathleen Collins
Country of Origin: USA
Year of release: 1982
Wed 13 Mar
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