Team of " The Revival'
The team of “The Revival’

A Kickstarter campaign for Sekiya Dorsett’s documentary on THE REVIVAL poetry tour.

THE REVIVAL is a poetry gathering and safe space that hits the road — a salon-styled reading that welcomes queer women and allies to speak their hearts and minds. In 2012, the tour was captured on reels and reels of film, and now the crew need your help to put it all together into a succinct, perfected movie entitled Women and the Word: The Revival Movie. The proceeds of their Kickstarter will go toward post-production for what will be a full-length documentary from director Sekiya Dorsett, who answered all of our questions. 

Tell us a little bit about the Revival Tour: who, what, where, when.

THE REVIVAL poetry tour, created by Jade Foster of Cereus Arts, began four years ago as an opportunity for queer women of colour to engage audiences around the country and carve a new space for American poetry—a space that extends beyond academia and the standard slam poetry scenes. Supporters in each city open up their homes, gathering and welcoming audiences in their living rooms to celebrate the word. Over the years, THE REVIVAL has connected with thousands of queer women and allies in cities across the U.S. and Canada. On the tour in 2012, our cameras followed a group of five amazing poets and musicians.

T’ai Freedom Ford, THE REVIVAL’s resident “badass poet,” is a Cave Canem Fellow whose poetry has appeared in Kuumba, The Georgia State Review, and Velvet Park Magazine. Be Steadwell, the “newbie pop star,” is a songstress, filmmaker, and singer MC in the queer pop group, The Lost Bois. The tour’s “heartthrob host,” Jonquille Rice, is a singer, bassist, poet, lead vocalist of all-girl Rock & Soul band, The CooLots, and the host of D.C.’s only Queer Women of Color open mic, Lyrics & Lace. Elizah Turner, “the brain” behind the operation, is a photographer and tour manager who specializes in documentary, music, and unit still photography. Jade Foster, executive producer and founder of THE REVIVAL, is the “tour mastermind” responsible for connecting over 2,000 queer women across the U.S. and abroad. Currently, Foster’s commentary can be found on the popular web series, The Peculiar Kind.

I attended the REVIVAL performance in 2011 and was floored by the energy and the power of sisterhood. I then set out to make sure the story of this tour, and the lives of these women and communities, were immortalized for generations to come.

What kinds of themes were covered on the tour, and is there anything that makes a focal point for the film?

This film is about poetry, poets as messengers, and the communities who have flocked to support this movement for years. While on tour, the five troupe members discussed and were confronted with topics including gender identity, queer visibility, family dynamics, community, self-esteem, motherhood, relationships, racial profiling, and sustaining a life as an artist. These themes emerged in conversations and in unexpected events on the road and were also discussed in one-on-one interviews with audience members and leading black feminist thinkers including Dr Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Red Summer, and Kim Katrin Crosby. The artistry, underlying themes, conversations, and special moments will be weaved together in a creative way that will tell the story of the tour as well as each cast member.

It looks like your Kickstarter is off to a great start. What are some of the rewards for backers?

Currently, backers can choose from a range of prizes from a creative writing consultation with Cave Canem Fellow T’ai Freedom Ford, VIP tickets to the film’s red carpet premiere, full access to the 2014 season of Cereus Arts’ workshops, festivals and events, one-of-a-kind merchandise, and Associate Producer credit.

We are also rolling out two new rewards for the last few weeks of our campaign! Our film just partnered with Sistah Sinema, the official home of queer women of color cinema. We will now offer the SISTAH SINEMA LOVE PACKAGE. Backers will get one digital movie rental from the wide range of offerings on Busk Films, plus a generous pack of 10 tickets to any Sistah Sinema screening around the U.S. (fully transferable).

The second prize we’re premiering comes courtesy of the talented Be Steadwell. Be will record a custom cover of your choice, and dedicate it to your special someone. (A great way to impress the girl this holiday season!)

What are the stakes here, and what will the end product look like with a successful Kickstarter campaign and post-production done the way you want it?

We didn’t have any money or major funding when we started filming, and we didn’t have a set DP from beginning to end. We had a consistent film crew for 4 cities on tour, but a completely different crew in 5 of the 8 tour stops. This film was 100 per cent a community effort, and with the money raised, our footage will be colour corrected, enhanced, and sharply edited so that it flows impeccably. Funding will allow us to hire a strong editor to bring our story to life.

Kickstarter mentions that one of the post-production goals is to incorporate motion graphics into the film. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Kinetic typography is the animated text that reflects the style of what is being said on screen. This film is called Women and the Word: The Revival Movie, and “the word” is an important part of our film. We want to highlight the words that are written, spoken, and performed in a dynamic, graphic way.

How is the process coming along, and when will the premiere be?

There’s no sugarcoating it. Combing through hours and days of footage, and crafting a complete story with such a small team is no simple feat, but we promised our audience a movie, and in the spring of 2014, they will be able to witness an amazing story that they can sink their teeth into. This is a historic moment for queer artists, women filmmakers, and black cinema. We hope they will be talking about Women and the Word: The Revival Movie for a long time.