Los Angeles-based artist Martine Syms is turning the high art world upside down with her feature film debut, The African Desperate.

The film is a coming-of-age comedy that premiered this year at New Directors/New Films’ graduation night and opens September 16 at the Brooklyn Arts Museum (BAM) and the Quad in New York City and select theaters across the country, by Mubi

According to the official synopsis, The African Desperate follows a very long day for Palace Bryant (an expertly dry Diamond Stingily), a recent MFA graduate whose final day at art school turns into a real journey. Palace isn’t going to the damn graduation! She hates the forest. If this was a reality show, she would be the person who isn’t here to make friends. Palace needs to go home, back to Chicago from upstate New York. But that means surviving a hazy, hilarious and hallucinatory nighttime odyssey and stumbling from academic critiques to backseat connections.

BAM curated a program featuring Syms cinematic influences that ran September 9-15, leading to the September 16 premiere of The African Desperate. With films such as Eve’s Bayou, Working Girls, Go and Party Monster among the selected films, the curation of BAM’s heart spans ‘indie classics to hidden gems from great directors and avant-garde pieces from contemporary fine arts Artists” for a “radical exploration of youth culture” across generations, per the program note.

Syms has shown her work in solo exhibitions at MoMA, ICA London, Tate Modern and the Art Institute of Chicago. Syms has also done commissioned work for brands such as Prada, Nike, Celine, Kanye West and NTS, among others. She has received the Creative Capital Award, a United States Artists Fellowship, the Tiffany Foundation Award and the Future Fields Art Prize. Syms is also in a band called Aunt Sister and hosts Double Penetration, a monthly radio show on NTS. She also runs Dominica Publishing.

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in the New Directors/New Films 2022 excerpt that The African Desperate explores “Black Identity, Queer Theory, and the Power of Language” to explore the exclusive nature of the high art world.

“Starring fellow artist Diamond Stingily as Palace’s protagonist, The African Desperate seems to chronicle a world the duo knows a lot about: American art schools, so often white, rigid and not too keen on messing things up,” Erbland wrote.

The African Desperate was written by Syms and co-author Rocket Caleshu.

Check out IndieWire’s exclusive trailer below.

The African Desperate

“The African despairs”


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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/08/the-african-desperate-trailer-martine-syms-feature-debut-1234755817/ The African Desperate Trailer: Martine Syms makes feature film debut

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