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This Time It's Personal Program 2 film image

"This Time It's Personal"

Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 2)
Take Your Bags; Finding Christa

Black History Month: Dispatches

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Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops and her partner in life and work, James Hatch, left behind rich legacies as archivists of Black cultural life and as courageous independent filmmakers who chronicled the ups and downs of their own lives and family histories, and found in them the temperature of their times. The films they made together, while grounded in documentary, use a range of techniques including reenactments, dramatization, and satire to illuminate the ways in which race, gender, and class shape everyday life, and despite their heavy subject matter, exude compassion, humour and humanity.

Billops died in 2019 at the age of 85. In addition to filmmaking, she was an important sculptor, ceramicist, printmaker, archivist and writer. Some of her work as a photographer and sculptor is currently on display in an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Hatch, her husband, was a playwright, screenwriter, professor, and archivist in addition to documentary filmmaker. He died in 2020 at the age of 91.

The second programme in our short selection of independent films by Camille Bishops and James Hatch includes what is probably their masterpiece, Finding Christa, a deeply personal film about Camille’s relationship with the daughter she gave up for adoption as a child.

(1998, 11 min)
Camille Billops explores the legacy of slavery and the theft of cultural memory as she gently runs a young boy through his history lessons, with pointed asides on Picasso and Matisse.

New 2k restoration

An efficient gloss on the violence of imperial expropriation, Take Your Bags is a meditation on the spiritual, intellectual, and artistic pillage—the stealing of ’dreams and memories’—that accompanied the theft of people.” Yasmina Price

FINDING CHRISTA (1991, 55 min)
Plumbing the depths of her vulnerability from the height of her artistic powers, Billops creates an autobiographical record of her reunion with the daughter she gave up for adoption twenty years before. Unapologetic and deeply complex, Finding Christa made Billops the first Black woman awarded Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and is widely considered her masterpiece.

Terrifically artful… a big, joyous consideration of some of the contradictions that have shaped Camille, Christa and those who are important to them. Finding Christa is a densely packed amalgam of feminism, individualism, interracial relations, art and show business. Camille and Christa act out their feelings in staged sketches, including one in which Camille yodels… The movie has the manner of an immensely convivial family reunion at which everyone talks, some people perform and others offer not always polite criticism… It’s a rich and haunting film.” Vincent Canby, New York Times


Camille Billops & James Hatch

Country of Origin






66 min

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Sunday February 26

2:35 pm
VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
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Monday February 27

8:15 pm
VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre
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"This Time It's Personal" Films by Camille Billops & James Hatch (Programme 1)

Trailblazing artist and polymath Camille Billops and her partner James Hatch were courageous independent filmmakers who chronicled the ups and downs of their personal lives and family histories, and found in them the temperature of their times.

VIFF Centre - Studio Theatre

Our Dance of Revolution

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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
Under the Cherry Moon (35mm)
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Viola Davis is immense in Steve McQueen's gripping crime story. When her husband dies in a shootout with Chicago PD, Veronica inherits his $2 million debt to a local mobster, and a notebook with plans to rip-off the vault of a local politico.

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Black Panther

The most important movie Marvel has made to date, this Black blockbuster is a triumph for Creed director Ryan Coogler and star Chadwick Boseman. After the death of his father, T'Challa returns to the African nation of Wakanda to take his place as king.

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Chien Blanc

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VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre