Personal Problems

Director: Bill Gunn
USA / 1980 / 165 min

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Bill Gunn, actor, screenwriter, novelist, and the director of art-horror classic Ganja & Hess (1973), teamed with writer Ishmael Reed and producer Steve Cannon to produce what Reed has called a “meta-soap opera,” an exceptional ensemble piece shot on video circa 1980 exploring black working-class lives in New York City with candor and emotional intensity, featuring a who’s who of major artists, including Walter Cotton, Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, Jim Wright, and Sam Waymon, with music by Carman Moore, and cinematography by Robert Polidori. After years of being seen in a mutilated cut hampered by the poor quality of available materials, this full-length version, as restored by Kino Lorber from the original camera tapes, is nothing short of a revelation.