May 18, 2022


Showing: February 19 through 25
Year: 1980, 1982
Country: USA
Genre: ,

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Maritza Rivera and Bill Gunn in LOSING GROUND, directed by Kathleen Collins in 1982.

Piermont based writer and director Kathleen Collins (1942 – 1988) made two groundbreaking films, both available for streaming: The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy (50 minutes; 1980) and the feature film, Losing Ground (1982), which was just selected for the prestigious National Film Registry for their permanent collection and was the opening night film in the Film Society of Lincoln Center series, “Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986”. Both films are set in Rockland County.

Read the excellent article about Kathleen Collins and her films in the February 19 edition of Nyack News and Views.

Losing Ground and The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy will stream from February 19 through 25, for the single price of $10.

TICKETS ARE ON SALE HERE. Ticket buyers will have 7 days to watch the films no matter when they buy the ticket, and can stop and start viewing during the entire period.

If you would like an email alerting you as soon as tickets are available, please write to

DISCUSSION ON ZOOM: On Wednesday, February 24, join Rivertown Film at 7:00 PM for what is sure to be an eye-opening discussion about art, movies, Rockland history and more. Moderated by Bill Batson (Nyack Sketch Log), panelists will include Kathleen Collins’s daughter, Nina, who reintroduced her mothers writing and films to the world; her son, Emilio, who recently moved back to Nyack; actress and theater director, Seret Scott, who has the primary role in Losing Ground; Michael Minard, a composer of music for films including both of these, and teaches music at Nanuet High School; and Sam Waymon, close friend of Kathleen Collins and Bill Gunn, who plays opposite Seret Scott’s husband in Losing Ground. REGISTER FOR THE DISCUSSION HERE.

COMMUNITY PARTNERS: Nyack Library, Nyack NAACP, The Historical Society of the Nyacks, and The Historical Society of Rockland County. We thank them all for their support of this program.

Losing Ground
was called a cinematic masterwork by Richard Brody in the New Yorker and it is pure pleasure for anyone who enjoys grappling with

Duane Jones (as Duke) in Kathleen Collins’ 1982 African-American classic, LOSING GROUND.

issues of representation and art, exclusion and cultural appropriation, abstraction and narrative, intellect and emotion, feminism and race, human development and aging. Collins brings all these issues and more to the fore in a surprisingly clear and accessible fashion. Actress Seret Scott sets the tone in the first scene as a beloved and beautiful

philosophy professor teaching a lesson on the wartime roots of existentialism, the absurdity of existence, Jean Paul Sartre and his play, No Exit. Not only that, this amazing film upends every stereotype of black American life in the 1980s — the main characters are Scott’s black philosophy

Kathleen Collins

professor and her abstract painter husband played by Bill Gunn. He declares himself, with irony, ‘a genuine black success’ after selling a painting to a major museum and decides the couple should head off to the country for the summer, picking Haverstraw because he feels drawn to the landscape, the light and “those Puerto Rican ladies”. This sets off an existential crisis for Scott’s character and launches the film’s narrative.  The Rockland scenery is clearly recognizable…but where is the magnificent brick mansion they rent, set in expansive, orchard-like grounds???

Losing Ground is very much an independent film created with resources at hand and is thereby testimony to the strength of a remarkable community of artists who were living and working in Rockland during the 1970s and 1980s, including cinematographer Ronald K Gray, composer Michael Minard, playwright, director and actor Bill Gunn (Ganja and Hess) and writer and collaborator, the late Henry H. Roth, among others.


The Cruz Brothers and Miss Mally, directed by Kathleen Collins

Kathleen Collins’ first film, The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy, is based on a story from Henry H. Roth’s novel The Cruz Chronicle. Roth was a friend, City College colleague, and neighbor in Piermont. This film is also set in Haverstraw as well as in the former Bennett-Deyrup mansion on North Broadway in Nyack. Three rambunctious brothers, with the ghost of their late father hovering over them, are engaged by an aging widow to ‘restore’ her grand but seriously faded Victorian mansion overlooking the Hudson River. Already an accomplished writer and film editor, Collins said she based her directorial debut on a story by another writer in order to free herself from ego constraints, enabling her to focus on mastering the craft and language of film.


“This movie is fascinating — a puzzle and a marvel, eliciting wonder and provoking questions.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“It is still exceedingly rare to watch a film like Losing Ground, which considers the existential, personal, and romantic dimensions of a middle-class black woman free of easy categorization or stereotype. – Angelica Jade Bastien, Vulture

“That Losing Ground  still feels fresh, over three decades later, is not only a testament to its timelessness, but also is sadly indicative of how scarce complex depictions of the inner lives of women — specifically black women — are, in contemporary American cinema; especially when handled with such majesty.” – Tambay Obenson, IndieWire

“Given its self-contained milieu, arty references and cerebral humor, Losing Ground is far closer to Eric Rohmer’s or Woody Allen’s contemporary brand of haute bourgeois comedy than to Spike Lee’s confrontational social satire. In 2015, A. O. Scott of The New York Times described it as ‘a bulletin from a vital and as‐yet‐unexplored dimension of reality.’” – J. Hoberman, The New York Times

“It’s by no means an exaggeration to say that Losing Ground is one of the most important and original American films of the second half of the 20th century. You really must watch it, for it is nothing but criminal that a work of this kind of genius is practically unknown.” – Charles Mudede, The Stranger

“Dreamy, meaty, and deeply intellectual, Losing Ground is remarkable because of its focus on the interior lives, class and gender dynamics, emotions, and dreams of the Black characters it depicts, specifically regarding the woman at the center of the film, Sara Rogers (played perfectly by Seret Scott).” – Jasmyne Keimig, The Stranger