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The Films of Camille Billops and James Hatch

Still from The KKK Boutiques Ain't Just Rednecks

Works by the American creative duo who made daring and playful films about the Black American experience, gender and class, in a way that carved out a new path for documentary filmmaking. 

Camille Billops and James Hatch have worked together several decades to craft a series of innovative autobiographical films, exploring interior workings of Black cultural life, through the prism of their extended families and friends.

Presenting these films, in response to the exhibition Carrie Mae Weems: Reflections for Now in the Barbican Art Gallery, expands on the artists’ recurring focus on interior spaces and the lives of Black women, providing a narrativised exploration of Black domestic spaces and the inter-generational relationships between Black women.


About the artists

Camille Billops (1933-2019) was a fearless filmmaker, artist, sculptor, historian, archivist, and staunch supporter of Black art and artists. Billops came into her own within the converging contexts of the 1960s civil and human rights struggles, New York's emerging Black artists movement, and her personal struggles for affirmation. Her work is autobiographical, interpretive, and challenging. Without apology, she successfully drew from her life's experiences, her education, and her observations of the world around her to carve out a space for her voice to be heard. She and her husband James made their loft in SoHo a hub for artistic collaborations, collecting thousands of books, documents, photographs, and ephemera related to Black culture. They held salons with Black artists, performers, and musicians, and recorded more than 1,200 oral histories, which were published in an annual journal called Artist and Influence.

James V. Hatch (1928-2020) was a historian of Black theater who taught English and theater at the City College of New York for three decades. He has written and co-written more than a dozen books, including "The Roots of African American Drama: An Anthology of Early Plays, 1858-1938" (1990), which he edited with Leo Hamalian, and "Sorrow Is the Only Faithful One: The Life of Owen Dodson" (1993), about the titular Black poet and playwright.