Losing Ground (1982 film)

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Losing Ground
Directed by Kathleen Collins
Produced by Eleanor Charles
Written by Kathleen Collins
Music by Michael Minard
Cinematography Ronald K. Gray
Edited by Ronald K. Gray
Kathleen Collins
Distributed by Milestone Film & Video
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Losing Ground is a semiautobiographical[1] 1982 film written and directed by Kathleen Collins starring Seret Scott, Bill Gunn, and Duane Jones. [2] It is the first feature-length drama directed by a black American woman[3] since the 1920s [4] and won First Prize at the Figueroa International Film Festival in Portugal. [5]


Sara Rogers is a well-loved philosophy professor who teaches courses on logic. She is married to Victor, a successful painter. To celebrate the sale of one of his paintings to a museum, Victor decides to rent a house for the summer where he can paint. Sara is annoyed at his plan because she wanted to spend the summer in the city researching a paper she is writing on ecstatic experiences and knows that her access to books will be limited in a small town. She feels as though Victor doesn't value her work in academia compared to his work as an artist. Nevertheless, after finding a house they both adore she agrees to go with him for the summer.

At the rented house Victor becomes obsessed with painting local women, befriending one in particular, a Puerto Rican woman named Celia. Jealous, Sara goes back to the city for a few days to act in a student film that one of her students has begged her to participate in. She meets Duke, the filmmaker's uncle, who plays her love interest in the movie and who is immediately attracted to her.

Sara brings Duke up to the rented house, and Victor is immediately jealous of him. Victor is also jealous when his friend and mentor Carlos starts flirting with Celia. In the morning, seeing Victor aggressively playing around with Celia, Sara grows angry and tells him to stop his flirting in front of her. Leaving him, she talks to her mother saying she feels out of control and on shaky ground, despite being known for her steady, contemplative nature.

Returning to the city, Sara completes her final scenes for the film. Victor goes to find her and arrives to watch in time as her character shoots Duke's character for being unfaithful to her crying. [6]


  • Seret Scott as Sara Rogers
  • Bill Gunn as Victor
  • Duane Jones as Duke
  • Billie Allen as Leila, Sara's Mother
  • Gary Bolling as George
  • Noberto Kerner as Carlos, Victor's friend
  • Maritza Rivera as Celia


Losing Ground was filmed in New York City and in Nyack, Piermont and Haverstraw in Rockland County, New York. [7]


Although it never played outside the film festival circuit during her lifetime – director Kathleen Collins died in 1988 at the age of 46 – and was mostly overlooked when it was first released, Losing Ground was later rediscovered by critics [8] such as A. O. Scott of The New York Times.[1]


  1. ^ a b Sterritt, David "Losing Ground (1982)" (article) TCM.com
  2. ^ MoMA
  3. ^ George, Nelson (2004). Post-Soul Nation: The Explosive, Contradictory, Triumphant, and Tragic 1980s as Experienced by African Americans {Previously Known as Blacks and Before That Negroes}. New York: Viking. p. 37. ISBN 0670032751.
  4. ^ To Have and To Hold: Losing Ground (1982)-Streamline- The Official Filmstruck Blog
  5. ^ Biography-Kathleen Collins
  6. ^ Losing Ground (1982) with Julie Dash Q&A-UCLA Film and Television Archive
  7. ^ [1] Losing Ground (1982)- Filming & Production-IMDB
  8. ^ Losing Ground (1982)-Seattle Movie Times-The Stranger

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