2021, Directed by Moses Sumney, 67 minutes
Moses Sumney directed Blackalachia, a feature length performance film shot in the North Carolina stretch of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the summer of 2020. Sumney’s auteurial debut highlights issues at the center of his interdisciplinary practice, including non-binary thinking, isolation, emotional introspection, and historical Black cultural influence.
The film’s title cites the relationship between Blackness and the Appalachian region, and the forced severance of the two, on which Sumney elaborates, “There is a history of Black people in Appalachia, there is a history of Black music being the foundation of bluegrass and country. There is a history of migration into and out of Appalachia. I’m so deeply invested in a reintegration into nature.” This sincere contemplation results in “a performance piece about performance, framed by the gradual passage of the day into blue-black night.”
The film shows a ruminative concert performed outdoors that serves as Sumney’s latest album, released in conjunction with the film and aptly titled Live From Blackalachia. Just as Sumney’s musical work radiates between genres, his artistic practice employs performance, photography, and dance to evoke contemplative, grandiose, and ethereal environments.
Sumney will speak with journalist Marcus J. Moore following the screening of Blackalachia at Big Ears.