Exclusive: Mubi opens the New Directors/New Movies favorite on September 16.
Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms is taking the art world by storm with her feature debut “The African Desperate.”
A coming-of-age comedy, the film premiered at New Directors/New Films this year as the closing night selection and opens in theaters September 16 at the Brooklyn Museum of the Arts (BAM) and the Quad in New York City, as well as theaters nationwide, from Mubi
According to the official synopsis, “The African Desperate” follows a very long day for Palace Bryant (a deadpan expert Diamond Stingily), a recent MFA graduate whose last day of art school turns into a real road trip. Palace is not going to the fucking prom! She hates the forest. If this were a reality show, she would be the person who wasn’t here to make friends. Palace needs to get home, back to Chicago from upstate New York. But that means surviving a confusing, hilarious, and mind-blowing late-night odyssey, stumbling through academic criticism and backseat adventures.
BAM curated a program from Syms’ film influences, September 9-15, leading up to the September 16 premiere of “The African Desperate.” With films like “Eve’s Bayou,” “Working Girls,” “Go” and “Party Monster” among the selected films, BAM’s core curation includes “indie classics to hidden gems from great directors and cutting-edge works by contemporary visual artists.” . ” for a “radical exploration of youth culture” across generations, according to a programming note.
Syms has shown her work in solo shows at MoMA, ICA London, Tate Modern, and the Art Institute of Chicago. Syms has also done commissioned work for brands such as Prada, Nike, Celine, Kanye West, and NTS, among others. She received the Creative Capital Award, a United States Artists Grant, the Tiffany Foundation Award, and the Future Fields Art Prize. Syms is also in a band called Aunt Sister and hosts Double Penetration, a monthly radio show on NTS. She also runs Dominica Publishing.
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in the New Directors/New Films 2022 excerpt that “The African Desperate” tackles “black identity, queer theory, and the power of language” to examine the exclusionary nature of the art world.
“Starring fellow artist Diamond Stingily as her protagonist Palace, ‘The African Desperate’ seems to narrate a world the duo know a lot about: American art schools, often white, rigid and not too keen on mixing things up,” Erbland wrote. .
“The African Desperate” is written by Syms and co-writer Rocket Caleshu.
Check out the trailer, an IndieWire exclusive, below.