Sugarcoated Arsenic, a cinematic exploration of African American life at the University of Virginia, will have its UK premiere at the historic Edinburgh Film Festival this week. it is a part of the shorts program, Ethics. The experimental documentaries in this program oscillate between intellectual objectivity and discomforting proximity. Confronting past events, present predicaments and potential futures, the films deal with race, discrimination, marginality, cultural difference, technology and science. Rather than asking the spectator to take up a fixed position, these works open up a space for personal reflection.
“Affirming objectivity and subjectivity as equally necessary to any compassionate rendering of our flawed and splendid human strivings, I have tried honestly to tell the story and to provide a rigorous analysis of the long black movement toward justice, equity, and truth. At the same time, identifying fully with the subjects of my study and the substance of their hope, I have freely allowed myself to celebrate. For I could not possibly remain silent and unmoved in the presence of the mysterious, transformative dance of life that has produced the men and women, the ideas and institutions, the visions, betrayals and heroic dreams renewed in blood that are at once the anguish and the glory of the river of our struggle in this land.” Vincent Harding, There Is A River, 1981.
In 1988, Vincent Harding delivered the speech, “Community As Liberating Theme in Civil Rights History,” at the University of Virginia. The speech was given during the first annual conference sponsored by the Center for the Study of Civil Rights, which was housed in the Carter G. Woodson Institute.