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“In her first feature film, artist Martine Syms applies her celebrated conceptual grit, humour, and social commentary to the cinematic form, where the natural beauty of upstate New York abuts the Day-Glo druggy haze of an art party.”

—IFRR

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World Premiere
Saturday, April 30, 2022

The African Desperate will be the closing night film at New Directors New Films in New York City.

Q&A with Director Martine Syms on April 30.


April 30, 2022
6:00pm

April 30, 2022
9:00pm

May 1, 2022
2:45pm

THE AFRICAN DESPERATE follows Palace Bryant on one very long day in 2017 that starts with her MFA graduation in upstate New York and ends at a Chicago Blue Line Station.

Palace is not going to the fucking graduation party! She hates the woods. If this were a reality show, she would be the person who was not here to make friends. Palace needs to get home, no place like it.

Set against the lush backdrop of late summer, Palace navigates the pitfalls of self-actualization and the fallacies of the art world. Shot through with Syms’s celebrated conceptual grit, humor, social commentary, and vivid visual language, The African Desperate leads us on an intimate and riotously funny journey through picturesque landscapes and artists studios, from academic critiques to backseat hookups, and from the night of a wild graduation party to the morning of a lonely trip back home.

Written and directed by Martine Syms and starring artist Diamond Stingily, the film is co-written by Rocket Caleshu and edited by Nicole Otero with cinematography by Daisy Zhou and an original score by Aunt Sister, Colin Self, and Ben Babbit.

The African Desperate is co-produced by Dominica Inc., Ways & Means, Sadie Coles HQ, Bridget Donahue Gallery, and EMPAC at Rensselaer.