Petra Richterova’s film of spirit and love
“It’s an art piece,” says professor Dr. Petra Richterova, director and cinematographer of “ON MY MIND”, the stunning short film based on musician Marcus Strickland’s spiritual jazz composition “On My Mind (Remix).” “It’s not intended to be a music video. I’m not catering to short attention spans. It’s for people who can get to the deeper level it’s on.”
“ON MY MIND”, produced and directed by Richterova and Jennifer Galvin, has its roots in the 1990s, when Richterova, then working as a photographer for Jazz at Lincoln Center, first crossed paths with Strickland. “At that time, Marcus was one of the talented young straight-ahead jazz players in the orbit of Wynton Marsalis. Later Marcus started making beats and working across musical disciplines, and we became closer because we had that creative connection.”
The song, which originally appeared on Strickland’s album People of the Sun (Blue Note/Revive Music, 2018), features the leader’s magisterial bass clarinet alongside vocals from soul singer Bilal, esteemed MC Pharoahe Monch, and poet and thinker Greg Tate. The “deeper level” Richterova speaks of, implicit in the music, is made flesh in the film by the performance of Storyboard P, an impossibly lithe flex dancer whose moves must be seen to be believed.
The cross-disciplinary excellence of “ON MY MIND” will not come as a surprise to the students who have learned under Richterova at SCAD. As a professor of African and African-American art in the art history department, her classes include “Dancing the Diaspora: Afro-Atlantic Representation and Performance” (ARTH484), an art history elective that integrates the life-work of artists including Sun Ra and Tupac Shakur to create a deeper understanding of Africa’s influence on global culture.
“ON MY MIND” was edited by Roberto E. Garcia Matus (B.F.A., sound design, 2017; M.A., film and television, 2019), who Richterova taught at SCAD. “I had to find an editor who could edit to music,” Richterova explains. “Roberto knows what I’m about and what the art is about. He’s a musician too, so his edits were intimately connected to the timing of the music. He brought it all together.”
After making its premiere online with Afropunk in June, “ON MY MIND” has won awards at the London Music Video Festival and as an official 24K selection at Hip Hop Film Fest NYC. Astute viewers may recognize one or more of the New York filming locations, including Electric Garden Recording Studio in Brooklyn and the Museum of Art and Origins in Harlem. The Ivorian Dan mask worn by Tate in the film’s opening moments is echoed at the film’s close, when Storyboard P “face dances” in a passage of stunning strength and vulnerability.
“Marcus gave us absolute freedom to do what we wanted with this project,” notes Richterova. “Our focus was on doing justice to the talent. It’s all about the transformation of energy into positivity, and the connection to spirit. That’s what it’s really all about: spirit and love.”
By Peter Relic