Now Pretend (1991)

L.Franklin Gilliam

Now Pretend L.Franklin Gilliam USA16mm > digital10 min 1991

Now Pretend is an experimental investigation into the use of race as an arbitrary signifier. In just ten minutes, this film quickly cycles through a diverse bank of images. Drawing on language, personal memories, and the 1959 text Black Like Me, it deals with Lacan’s “mirror stage,” ideologies of the beautiful, and the movement from object to subject. Now Pretend is a look at how totalizing definitions function for/against women of colour—a visual and sonic effort to re/collect the self. – Courtisane Festival 

The restoration and new digitization of Now Pretend was completed by Cinenova as part of their preservation project The Work We Share. Funding provided by Arts Council England.

Streaming Details

This film is available to stream globally.

Program Partners

This film is co-presented with Cinenova.

Image credits: all artworks, stills, and portraits courtesy of the artist © L.Franklin Gilliam and Cinenova Distribution.

about the artist

L.Franklin Gilliam (USA) is an American filmmaker and media artist born in Washington, DC in 1967, whose creative practice is research-based and multidisciplinary. Their father is noted African-American Color-field painter and lyrical abstractionist, Sam Gilliam. Their mother Dorothy Pearl Butler Gilliam is an activist and journalist who became the first African-American female reporter at The Washington Post. Their parents were both instrumental in exposing them to cultural production early in life. Gilliam received a BA in Modern Culture and Media from Brown University (1989), an MFA in Film and Twentieth Century Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1992), and a Masters in Professional Studies, Games and Interactive Media Design from New York University (2008). Gilliam has completed 10+ films, videos, interactive installations, and games since 1992. Their work has been widely exhibited at festivals, museums, and galleries internationally, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Institute of Contemporary Arts (London), New Museum of Contemporary Art, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Thread Waxing Space, Festival panafricain du cinéma et de la télévision de Ouagadougou, and New York Underground Film Festival. They have taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and held various positions at Bard College, including Director, Integrated Arts Program (2003–2006); Chair, Division of the Arts (2004–2006); Faculty, Masters Fine Arts Program (2005–2006); and Associate Professor, Electronic Arts (2002–2007). Gilliam is the recipient of a Creative Capital Emerging Field Award (2000), and the New Visions Video Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival. They are former Vice President for Education, Strategy & Innovation at Girls Who Code, are presently Senior Strategy and Design Officer at Lambent Foundation, and Board President at Out in Tech, the world’s largest non-profit community of LGBTQ+ tech leaders, with over 40,000 members worldwide. Gilliam will be an artist in residence at the Center for Afrofuturist Studies in Iowa in 2022. They live and work in New York.