The story is revealed to the audience through the comprehensive, independent research of the filmmaker, M. Asli Dukan, who began HD production in 2011. Ms. Dukan has compiled an extensive interviewee list of Black creators who have been producing SF works where Black people not only exist in the future, but are powerful shapers of their own realities, whether in magical lands, dystopian settings, or on distant worlds. In addition, she has documented an impressive number of academic, community and arts events dedicated to the work and analysis of Black SF, as well as to building connections between creators, organizers, academics and fans. In the past decade, the filmmaker has documented the cultural shift around Black SF and its development into an informal network and movement.
This feature length documentary includes interviews with Black writers of SF like Samuel R. Delany, the late Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Nnedi Okorafor, Brandon Massey and N.K. Jemisin, actors like Nichelle Nichols and Wesley Snipes, filmmakers like Julie Dash and Ernest R. Dickerson, cultural organizers like Yumy Odom and Rasheedah Phillips, scholars like Moya Bailey and Ayana Jamieson, academics/artists like John Jennings and Nettrice Gaskins, social justice workers/artists like adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha, as well as numerous other filmmakers, artists, academics, archivists, fans - a virtual who’s who in Black speculative fiction.
M. ASLI DUKAN
M. Asli Dukan is an independent filmmaker who embraces the futuristic, fantastic and imaginary genres of speculative fiction (SF) as a way to explore the possibilities of social transformation in society. She has written, produced and directed several short SF films that have screened at distinct festivals across the country including the ImageNation Film and Music Festival in New York City, the M.A.L.I. Women’s Film and Performance Arts Festival in Austin and the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival in Seattle. She has received several grants for her work, including the Urban Artists Initiative Grant (2009), the Kitchen Table Giving Circle Grant (2012), and from the Leeway Foundation - the Art and Change Grant (2014, 2016) and Transformation Award (2016). After graduating with an MFA in Media and Communication Arts from the City College of New York in 1999, she founded Mizan Media Productions where she has produced her own films, as well as projects for innovative, progressive and radical artists and organizations. Some work include her films Orishas (2001), 73 (2008) and M.O.M.M. (2011), her music videos Boot (2006) for Tamar-kali and Do You Mind (2008) for Hanifah Walidah, promotional productions for Crossing into Presence (2009) by DawN Crandell and Bernard Carey Sr., Black Girl Ugly (2010, 2011) by Ashley Brockington and Black Moon (La Lune Noir) Act I (2011) by Monstah Black and Major Andres Scurlock, as well as work for Brown Girls Burlesque, WOW Cafe Theatre, the Earthdriver collective and the Black Rock Coalition. She is currently in post-production on two feature length projects, Invisible Universe, a documentary about the historic representations and participation of Black people in the genres of speculative fiction literature and Songs for Nina, a music and travel documentary following the “Daughters of Nina” orchestra on their French tour as they pay homage to the late singer/pianist, Nina Simone. Her next projects are the six part SF web series, Resistance and the anthology horror film, Skin Folk, based on the book by the award winning SF writer, Nalo Hopkinson. Ms. Dukan also tours the country as one of the leading voices lecturing about Black Speculative Fiction history.
"I have been a fan of speculative fiction for as long as I could remember. SF gave me a way to escape the harsh realities of life and allowed me to envision a better future for myself. However, my adoration for SF, especially fantasy, horror and science fiction was always bittersweet, because I never really felt part of these universes. It wasn’t until I came across the work of Octavia E. Butler, that I felt a fuller connection to the genres. Her work also made me curious about what other Black writers of SF used the genres to tell their own stories. I knew if I could find them, that I wouldn’t think I was invisible and I would feel a part of something larger than myself."
"The Invisible Universe documentary has been a long time in the making. It has been my appreciation for the genres and respect for all of the Black creators that I have interviewed and documented along the way that have kept me focused on my goal - to create a pivotal work that explores our history in SF. My sincere hope is that young people will see it and it will inspire them to imagine and create better futures for themselves."
A selection of some of the earliest and most recent events focused on "Black Speculation" that have been documented by the Invisible Universe documentary.
Blacks In Science Fiction: A New Frontier ConventionHoward University
Black to the Future: A Black Science Fiction FestivalSeattle Center
Imagenation: Black Sci-Fi & Social Change PanelThe Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Speculative Fiction Panel/National Black Writers ConferenceMedgar Evers College
The 7th Annual East Coast Black Age of Comics ConventionTemple University
March 27-28, 2003
June 11-14, 2004
New York, NY
August 27, 2004
March 30, 2006
May 16-17, 2008
Alien Encounters IV: Atlanta ConferenceAuburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture & History
Dark Phase Space: Charity and BallWindow Factory Arts
The Shadows Took Shape ExhibitionThe Studio Museum of Harlem
Astro Blackness ConferenceLoyola Marymount University
Ferguson is the Future SymposiumPrinceton University
October 23-27, 2013
November 9, 2013
New York, NY
November 2013 - March 2014
Los Angeles, CA
February 12-13, 2014
September 14, 2015
The journey has been long and full of amazing encounters. Here are some of them…
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Help us complete the project in 2016!
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11x17 BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION WRITER POSTER
Drawn by designer, illustrator, writer, lecturer and artist – John Jennings.
A limited edition, collector’s item, signed by the artist!
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Check out the Invisible Universe Black Speculative Fiction literature infographic!
This infographic was made possible with funding awarded to M. Asli Dukan
via the Art and Change grant from the Leeway Foundation in 2014.
Designed by Ramon Thompson.
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