Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce (film discussion)

The final Temple Sinai program for the Saratoga Jewish Cultural Festival presents a Zoom discussion and celebration of Black culture with Homecoming: A Film by Beyonce on August 15, 2021 at 7 p.m.

The documentary film, a highly celebrated Netflix documentary and 2019 Emmy Award nominee, is presented with a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York.

“What I really want to do is be a representative of my race,” Beyonce said, voicing her grandest artistic aspirations in quoting Maya Angelou.

The documentary is an in-depth look at Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella show (the California Music and Arts Festival), identified as one of the greatest shows to grace a festival stage, where she was the first African American woman to headline the festival since its founding in 1999.
Beyonce, often known as Bey or Queen Bey, voiced her chronicles and historic headlining experiences, from breastfeeding newborn twins, dance rehearsals, her radical diet regimen and grueling training schedule after topping the scales at 218 pounds following the birth of her twins.

All this, and as the sheer perfectionist she admits to be, while working on something as important as this show, which introduces a culture and gives visibility to those who feel unseen by the world at large.
Beyonce, who directed and produced the film, flashes inspirational go-get-’em quotes from a myriad of high profile African American thinkers, writers and activists of the 20th century, such as Alice Walker, Marian Wright Edelman, Maya Angelou, Nina Simone, W.E.B DuBois and others.

That is what this whole experience is all about, paying tribute to her culture, said Phyllis Wang, coordinator for the Jewish Cultural Festival. It is about never forgetting. It is about making sure that everyone is connected and educated and inspired by African American culture. On a global stage. Across generations, Wang said.
“As a Black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box,” Beyonce said. “I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process. Proud of the struggle. It was no rules, and we were able to create a free, safe space where none of us were marginalized.”

The Homecoming musical set played off the idea of homecomings at historically and Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“She always dreamed of HBCU college life,” Wand said. “However, it never made it into her life plan.”

In Coachella, Beyonce was not just the star performer, she was a total boss who navigated down to the detail of hand-sewn patches on her musicians’ costumes. She wanted a black orchestra…she handpicked every musician with the same care with many of them from HBCUs. Everything that happened on stage had a decisive purpose. Nothing was left to chance.
Barrett Holmes of BBC described the film as “much more than a film about the first Black woman to headline the Coachella music festival….it displayed the beauty of Black culture and gave people the chance to celebrate the necessity of Black education. It is a celebration of Black American culture with education, specifically Historically Black Colleges and Universities, serving as the foundation of her (Beyonce’s) message.”

Judy Berman of Time magazine stated that the film “recontextualizes the show in a way that claims the most influential live music event in North America for Black culture.”

The panel discussion of Homecoming: A film by Beyonce will be presented on Zoom, August 15, at 7 p.m. Registration is required at sjca.sjcf@gmail.com

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