Christopher James White is is a performer and filmmaker of Afro-American and Indo-Guyanese descent born in Atlanta. He has focused primarily on performance poetry and fringe theatre. His afrofuturist performance piece KIGALI2097 explored themes of neoliberalism and transhumanism , and took home the Best Emerging Writer Award at the 2019 Melbourne Fringe. Here, he talks to EWF about his new short film, A Friend.
Hi Christopher! Thanks for answering some questions for us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your practice as an artist and writer?
Thanks for chatting with me! I work primarily in spoken word poetry and have started exploring theatre and film projects in the last couple years. A lot of my work explores science fiction and relationships. I want to look at the really small but significant things that people experience daily as well as the hypothetical situations we will find ourselves grappling with in the future.
You were named the Best Emerging Writer (supported by Emerging Writers’ Festival) at Melbourne Fringe last year for your show, KIGALI2097. How has your life and artistic practice changed since then?
That was an incredible experience and really fun. COVID really fucked up how I would have gone forward with some of this stuff. I was geared up to starting work on live performance, but that ain’t happening anytime soon. Since then I was able to focus on exploring film which became very difficult to do under strict lockdown but we made it happen. So now I’m reassessing what kinds of art I want to focus my energy into and digital content has been something, I’ve been really getting into just like everyone has.
Your new project, A Friend, is a really tender look at relationships. Can you talk about what inspired the film? What made you decide to focus on a romantic relationship?
I’d been wanting to make something like that for a while. It’s inspired by my own relationships and what forgiveness and non verbal communication look like. There’s just so much magic in those interactions. As much as I love lasers and time travel there’s something otherworldly about two people getting lost in intense feelings about one another whether good or bad.
Why did you choose to set the film in one, rather small, space?
We wanted to explore what those intimate interactions between partners look like. They almost always happen in private. In kitchens, in bathrooms, in living rooms, and backyards. I love those moments even if they can feel impossible in the moment. Seeing a child’s first steps, or nursing someone back to health, or fighting about a scary financial decision to move to a new city together. I love that shit.
What are some pieces of writing (of any kind: books, essay, articles, film) that have resonated with you lately? What captures your attention when reading or interacting with art?
The last thing I saw that I really loved was Honey Boy. Highly recommend. It’s an insane look into generational trauma and the lasting effects of old childhood wounds. Honestly it was hard to watch. I don’t know how the writer and main actor was able to play a version of his own abuser with such conviction.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a video art series now focusing on the beauty of the human form. It’s a fashion film series and I’m hoping that restriction easing lasts long enough for me to get the needed shots.