Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

From Africa to Brazil: Documentary Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris Goes in Search of His Pan-African Roots in That's My Face (E Minha Cara). (Television)

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

From Africa to Brazil: Documentary Filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris Goes in Search of His Pan-African Roots in That's My Face (E Minha Cara). (Television)

Article excerpt

For artist and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris, the journey of self-discovery he embarks upon in his documentary film That's My Face (E Minha Cara), which premieres on the Sundance Channel on June 9, is as much steeped in his sexuality as it is in spirituality and identity. Except that he chose not to draw attention to the former.

"I asked myself, Should I make an announcement in the film that I'm gay?" recalls Harris. "Or should I just show myself just being in the film, surrounded by intimate friends and beautiful men and not explain myself?. I decided on the latter. The sexual journey is part of the whole fabric."

The multidimensional voyage in the film, which Harris describes as not so much a documentary as a "mythobiography," sees the African-American filmmaker journey to the city of Salvador da Bahia, the African center of Brazil, to discover more about the African deities, or orishas, who haunt his dreams. He first heard about the orishas when he lived as a child for two years in Tanzania, where the African-centered religion of Candomble is practiced. That religion, carried intact by African slaves to the New World and still widely practiced in Brazil, coexisted with Catholicism in Harris's psyche as he grew up.

Shot on silent Super 8 film (with music and a voice-over track subsequently added), That's My Face unfurls in a dreamlike patchwork of images that help to explore Harris's own desire to reclaim the culture of Africa. "The orishas are bisexual," he explains, "so Candomble combines sensuality with religious expression. As black queer people, we are looking for ways to have a spiritual practice that reflects our particular history and modes of expression."

In Salvador da Bahia, Harris met and became close friends with another gay man, Jorge, and the film also covers their platonic relationship. …

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