BOMB THE ROOT: The Camille Billops Interview

Controversial documentarian Camille Billops talks about making art, internalized racism in the black community and why she isn’t sorry that she gave up her daughter for adoption.

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Camille Billops is nothing if not a character, from her ultra long hair to her eyes painted with thick Egyptian eyeliner. She spent years making documentaries about some of the most controversial and personal topics imaginable. Her first film, Suzanne, Suzanne, chronicled her niece’s heroin addiction, her follow-up, Older Woman and Love, told the story of her grandmother’s affair with a younger man, and The KKK Boutique Ain't Just Rednecks examined internalized racism in the black community.

And then there was Finding Christa, Billops’ third and most (in)famous film. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival’s Best Documentary in 1992, Finding Christa is a memoir of Billops’ decision to give her daughter up for adoption at the age of 4 and what happened when she reunited with her daughter 20 years later. As she explains quite matter-of-factly, “at one point, I decided that I didn’t want to be anyone’s mother.”

Though this choice of hers may seem abhorrent to many readers, the film, and this BOMB Magazine interview, offer us a compelling look into the psyche of a brilliant woman who was willing to sacrifice her own child in order to live her life as she wanted to live it.

Read the full interview from BOMB Magazine Issue 40, Summer 1992.

—Adda Birnir