Losing Ground (Collins, 1982) should have been a lot of things. It should have been the foundation of a long career and important filmography. Instead, what it was was almost lost and mostly forgotten for three decades. It also turned out to be Kathleen Collins’ valediction, as we lost her at the young age of 46. It is a great shame that we didn’t get to experience more of her work. This is a remarkable look at a woman struggling with her desires and her sense of self and you get the feeling that Collins was only just beginning to stretch out and explore these ideas.
Thankfully, Losing Ground is no longer the obscurity it once was. The combined efforts of film professors, critics, programmers, and her daughter, Nina, have revitalized the reputation of Collins’ film. In the last few years, it has assumed its rightful position as one of the most important films in the African American cinematic canon. It’s a bittersweet outcome, to be sure. As a viewer, I lament so many things. I am sorry that it is only recently becoming widely available. It could have been such an inspiration at the time for young filmmakers and viewers who were looking for more varied stories about and by artists of color. I am sorry that we lost her voice. Losing Ground is essential viewing on its own, but it also points to an immense well of unrealized potential, simply because the clock ran out. At least now, for us, there is time to catch up with her. Don’t miss your opportunity.
What you’ll find in this episode: the pursuit of the ecstatic moment, infidelities, art versus intellect, and how a pioneering and important work can get lost for so long.
Links and Recommendations:
Check out Losing Ground on IMDB.
Ericca’s further viewing pick of Major Barbara.
Cole’s further viewing pick of Personal Problems.
Order a copy of Losing Ground directly from Milestone Films.
The official Kathleen Collins website, administrated by her daughter, Nina.