Philosophy of The Encounter
Philosophy of the Encounter is a narrative film that explores the topic of race, racism and the pain and trauma (examined and unexamined) experienced through various characters' post-colonial lenses.
The project was designed to introduce students interested in African culture and philosophy to some of the field’s most important voices and to convene a multi-cultural team of filmmakers, scholars, actors, and artists who were willing to explore some critical questions that look at how African ontology and epistemology have been framed by colonization.
The film addresses the important relationship between the western colonial expansion and the advent of film. Film was a very successful tool for propaganda and was used to impose the colonizer's language, cultural and economic practices, etc.
Non-fiction documentary films, in particular, were used in this process of what has become known as the “colonization of the mind” (Thiong’o).
“Colonization of the mind” describes a form of “epistemic violence” (Spivak) where a “taking possession and control of its victims' minds” has occurred (Dascal). The victim has suffered such psychological trauma as a result of domination that it affects central aspects of the mind’s structure, mode of operation, and contents" (ibid).
Film Project’s Objective
Production allowed for the space and time to creatively explore and to thoughtfully interrogate this issue of "mind colonization" and to understand how philosophy, and specifically African philosophy of film, has and can continue to address the problems that stem from colonization.
The main character is Bertrand who --at the film's central plot point-- starts to become more aware of who she is after she takes an African film class. Along with her peers, she delves into serious conversations trying to wake herself up and become more conscious of who she is. What she discovers along the way sets her on a lifelong journey of intellectual inquiry.
Betrtrand and her peers are forced to question reality as something that is easily confirmed by everyone when they discover a magical portal that seems to connect them to another reality that is not their own.
The aesthetic choices in the film drive a central discussion in the film, which is: whose reality is this? Who gets to dominate and distribute reality? And what are the consequences for all of us when dominant culture's reality dominates the human experience?
This film was funded by the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, The University of Rhode Island, and individual donors.