Long time readers of S&A will be familiar with M. Asli Dukan - a writer, producer and director, whose ambitious documentary project, "Invisible Universe: A History of Blackness in Speculative Fiction," is one that we've been following for a long time, as it journeys towards completion.
The film (which is on my "15+ Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Film & TV Projects with Black Talent to Get Excited About" list) explores the relationship between African Diasporic images and popular fantasy, horror, science fiction literature and film, as well as the alternative perspectives produced by content creators of color. It features interviews with major writers, scholars, artists and filmmakers and explores comics, television, film and literature by deconstructing stereotyped images of black people in the genres, revealing how black creators have been consciously creating their own universe.
While she works to complete that documentary, Dukan has developed a 6-part speculative fiction web series which is set in the near-future, titled "Resistance: the battle of philadelphia" (lower case emphasis, hers), which follows a small collective of residents who mobilize against police brutality in their community.
The filmmaker, whose creative resume goes back 20 years, and who counts "Planet of the Apes" (1968), "Ganja & Hess" (1973) and "The Brother from Another Planet" as inspirations, as well as films by black filmmakers of the "L.A. Rebellion," has launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 which will go towards funding "Resistance: the battle of philadelphia."
As Dukan states: "This web series will not only tackle a subject that is a part of our current conversation around social justice, specifically, police brutality, but will also connect to the long history of community resistance to police brutality in the city of Philadelphia."
M. Asli Dukan
In response to the question, why this project now, she replies: "For the past several years, police brutality has become the subject of a highly public, national debate in our Internet-connected society. However, in African American communities across the United States, police brutality is an historical issue that has plagued the well-being and safety of Black people for over 300 hundred years. As campaigns to reform police departments and to abolish police departments collectively raise their voices across the country, I wanted to add my own voice to the public conversation through my art. And as my films often revolve around the idea of Black Speculation, I began to wonder how to tell a story about Black resistance to police brutality in a futuristic context? Resistance: the battle of philadelphia is an attempt to create a work of art that not only entertains, but enlightens and empowers the audience to be critically engaged with their world."
Dukan adds: "This project is partly based in the conventions of speculative fiction, for example it uses fictitious technologies and takes place in a dystopian setting, but it’s also rooted in the tradition of independent Black filmmaking as it’s told entirely from the perspective of the Black characters. I need your help to make this project happen! Join the resistance by making a financial contribution. This project is timely. Police brutality has recently become the subject of a public national debate; for Black folk though, this is not a new conversation. Historically, especially in Philadelphia, there has always been resistance to police brutality by Black people. Most times it was organized and reform-minded, but sometimes it was spontaneous and revolutionary. And these truths are what I want to explore in the web series."
You can read more about the influences for the project, the local cast and crew attached to bring it to life, and more about the $15,000 GoFundMe campaign (including how to contribute) here. I'm definitely going to contribute, so join me!
Last summer, the production team produced a prologue episode to the web series which will world premiere as a stand-alone episode at the BlackStar Film Festival in Philadelphia in August.
Below, watch Dukan's pitch video on the project: