Black Mother

United States / 2018 / 77 minutes / NR

Part film, part baptism, in Black Mother director Khalik Allah brings us on a spiritual journey through Jamaica. Soaking up its bustling metropolises and tranquil countryside, Allah introduces us to a succession of vividly rendered souls who call this island home. Their candid testimonies create a polyphonic symphony, set against a visual prayer of indelible portraiture. Thoroughly immersed between the sacred and profane, Black Mother channels rebellion and reverence into a deeply personal ode informed by Jamaica’s turbulent history but existing in the urgent present.


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  • "Gliding from color to black and white, from digital to analog, from grim realism to spiritual ecstasy, the film offers a song of praise to the island of Jamaica and a reckoning with its painful history and hard-pressed present."

    — A.O. Scott, The New York Times
  • "Stunning. Transfomative. Black Mother may be the most fearless film I’ve seen in a decade."

    — Scout Tafoya, Frameland
  • "Critic’s Pick! Black Mother announces itself as an evocation, invocation and chronicle of birth and life."

    — Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
  • “Gorgeous. A lush sensory experience. A dreamy portrait of Jamaica, Allah's mother's childhood home.”

    — John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
  • "Black Mother was one of the most astonishing films I saw last year, back during its festival run… It casts a spell from the start, and is impossible to forget afterward.”

    — Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
  • “One of the most original cinematographers of the time. Allah also edited the film, and his complex sense of audiovisual composition—textural, tonal, thematic, rhythmic, philosophical—is as original and as personal as his cinematography.”

    — Richard Brody, The New Yorker
  • “A thrilling, hallucinatory portrait of Jamaican life and history.”

    Sight & Sound
  • "Black Mother is the beginning of a brand of Black auteurism exhibited by Allah and his contemporaries."

    — Tayler Montague, Reverse Shot
  • "A visionary filmmaker. Dazzling cinematic poetry."

    — Eric Kohn, Indiewire
  • Black Mother is a film about love made with love.... goes beyond stereotypical images... It evinces a spirituality in its very fiber while documenting socio-historical memory."

    — Tanner Tafelski, Hyperallergic
  • "Black Mother finds Allah doubling down on his established aesthetic to bold, hypnotic ends."

    — Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
  • "A personal, radical, expansive portrait of Jamaica and its people… what distinguishes the film is Allah’s superb eye and talent for portraiture."

    — Lawrence Garcia, A.V. Club
  • "In just two films, Allah has developed and honed his incomparable style, providing the documentary form itself with one of the most memorable, intense experiences in recent memory."

    — Jason Ooi, The Film Stage
  • "Black Mother is a spiritual project, collapsing the beautiful and the profane."

    — Sierra Pettengill, frieze
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