BFI Recommends: Drylongso

A hidden gem of 1990s American indie cinema, Drylongso is the rarely screened directorial debut of Cauleen Smith, recommended by Grace Barber-Plentie.

28 May 2020

By Grace Barber-Plentie

Drylongso (1998)

There’s no greater joy than being desperate to see a film for years, only to one day discover it hiding in plain sight, waiting to finally be watched. This is what happened when I stumbled upon a full version of Cauleen Smith’s 1998 film Drylongso just chilling on her Vimeo page. Drylongso is, like numerous other films directed by black women, rarely screened (it was due to be shown at this year’s sadly cancelled Essay Film Festival), so to watch it in a way endorsed by its director feels like a gift.

Smith’s only feature film, Drylongso follows a photography student, Pica, who’s documenting the black men of her neighbourhood as they begin ‘dying out’ – being killed by a mysterious serial killer. As with so many other first-time feature filmmakers, not everything Smith tries to do in the film works, but it’s essential viewing for fans of 90s independent filmmaking and for anyone who’s looking for a new lockdown hairstyle – it’s impossible to not be influenced by Pica’s braids!

Follow it up with Smith’s short films, which are also available to watch on her Vimeo page. Now’s the perfect time to get acquainted with a new filmmaker AND pass some of those long lockdown hours!

Grace Barber-Plentie
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