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UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program present

As Above, So Below

As Above, So Below
March 25, 2021 - 4:00 pm

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Post-screening conversation with filmmaker Larry Clark and cultural critic Ernest Hardy.

As Above, So Below

U.S., 1973

Free jazz, state propaganda, religious feeling and revolutionary action all roil the air in writer-director Larry Clark’s masterwork of the L.A. Rebellion. When Black veteran Jita-hadi (Nathaniel Taylor) arrives in South-Central Los Angeles after serving stints in Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Vietnam—a veritable guided tour of postwar American imperialism—he immediately recognizes the symptoms of a population under occupation in the wake of the 1965 Watts rebellion. At a local diner, a church service, and out on the streets, Jita-hadi bears witness to the forces of oppression and reaction within and without the Black community while an underground army watches and waits. On the soundtrack, Horace Tapscott’s improvisational score plays against recorded HUAC testimony on the threat of Black nationalism while Clark (also director of Passing Through) intercuts scenes of Jita-hadi’s political awakening with documentary footage of U.S. foreign interventionism and domestic police brutality. Politically radical and aesthetically inventive, As Above, So Below couples a far-reaching critique of American racial injustice with an expansive vision of the possibilities of Black resistance.

As Above, So Below was scanned and digitally color corrected from 16mm materials held by the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Color and b&w, 52 min. Director: Larry Clark. Screenwriter: Larry Clark. With: Nathaniel Taylor, Gail Peters, Billy Middleton.