Justin Taylor at The LA Times:
Kathleen Collins was a professor of film history at New York’s City College who made a groundbreaking contribution to the subject that she taught. “Losing Ground” (1982), which Collins wrote and directed, was one of the first feature-length dramas made by an African American woman. Collins, who was also an activist and playwright, never got the chance to make another film. She died in 1988, at age 46, after a bout with breast cancer — a life, and a life’s work, cut brutally short.
“Losing Ground” is the story of a marriage in crisis and an intimate portrait of the black creative class in New York in the 1970s. Sarah, a promising young academic, is married to Victor, an older and somewhat louche painter who has just made his first major sale to a museum. (Notably, his work is acquired not by an American institution but by the Louvre.) To celebrate, they rent a summer house in a majority-Puerto Rican community in the Hudson Valley, where Victor becomes smitten with the local culture (and a local woman) while Sarah starves for intellectual and emotional attention, until one of her students asks her to come back to the city to star in a film of his.
Richard Brody, writing in the New Yorker this past spring, called “Losing Ground” “a nearly lost masterwork” and noted ruefully that “[h]ad it screened widely in its time, it would have marked film history.”