On the Battlefield

On the Battlefield

泰瑞莎.戴思安Theresa DELSOIN
洛怡嵐Lisa Marie MALLOY
  • United States
  • DCP
Asian Premiere G

On the Battlefield


In Little Egypt, Southern Illinois, Ray Whitaker explores former housing projects of Cairo's Black community of his hometown. His mic captures sounds of nature and life. Guided by a 1970 LP featuring Reverend Dr. Charles Koen, Whitaker seeks audible connections between past, present, and future.

Little Egypt Collective (LEC) is a multi-racial, multi-generational group of artists from 'Little Egypt' in Southern Illinois and Chicago. Their work is a mode of collective world-building and a means of investigating conditions of inequality in Southern Illinois, a region historically marked by economic and racial injustices. They utilise speculative fiction and conceptual playfulness to generate new expressions of community spirit and resistance, and participate in Cairo's resurgence. This is LEC's first work.

'As the first Little Egypt Collective release, this film is an overture celebrating the joy and power of Cairo, a town famous for confluences and collisions: between the North and South; the Mississippi and the Ohio rivers; and Black liberation and white supremacy. We offer an aperture of encounter, resistance, and inspiration, and invite audiences into these muddy histories and potent spaces'. - Little Egypt Collective

Statement from co-director Theresa Delsion:

All of our directors, producers and the people of Cairo, Illinois express our sincere gratitude to the programmers of the Taiwan International Documentary. Also, much thanks to you, the audience, for your presence here today. Your choice to live in a democracy are in line with the values we support that we are promoting through this film.

Our film, “On The Battlefield” speaks indirectly about social injustice, caste and racial inequality in the film. In the film, Ray Whitaker, one of the directors, who was raised in Cairo walks across a vacant parcel of land. On this vacant land once stood Pyramid Courts, a public housing development was built in the early 1940’s.

I moved into Pyramid Courts with my mother and my three siblings in 1946, when I was six years old. It was a refuge, a safe sanctuary, with a cohesive community where neighbors looked out for each other. During these years, there was no cocaine or other drug addictions that destroyed families. There was no gun violence and people who had guns used them for hunting for food.

Due to the lack of employment opportunities beyond picking cotton in the fields of white landowners, my family migrated back to Chicago when I was 19 years old. Racism continued to plague Cairo. In the 1970’s, there was a paradigm shift where the oppressed black people living in an overt racist society said, “No more” and started a revolution for equal rights with economic opportunities. Dr. Reverend Charles Koen led a movement, the United Front of Cairo to boycott the White businesses of Cairo which would not hire Blacks, and Pyramid Courts was the heart of this activism.

On this special land were sounds of violence where misguided white folk with fear of losing their power shot guns nightly to provoke fear in the Black folks standing up for freedom and justice.  Regardless to the threats to their lives, the activists moved forward a boycott on all the businesses. As a result, white revenge and racism closed most of the stores and moved out of Cairo and the business district became like a ghost town.

In the film, there is Dr. Reverend Charles Koen voice and the choir singing, “On The Battlefield.” Now, he is an ancestor and we hear his voice through the elements of the universe. On the vacant land are the spirits of our ancestors with their oral histories of human struggles, victories, joy and happiness.

The vacant grounds where Pyramid Courts once stood appears to be empty to the human eye, but we can hear and envision our mothers and fathers talking with us and encouraging us to be courageous and resilient as we navigated through social injustices that were so cruel and immoral in a democracy for only white people.

"On The Battlefield" reminds us to never forget the struggle for liberation that emerged from the courageous folk on that land that once was also a contraband camp for runaway slaves from the slave states to Cairo during the Civil War. The message is to “Stay and Stand on the Battlefield for freedom, justice for all." 

We are all connected and what is happening in Gaza and in Sudan with ethnic cleansing of a people is totally against democratic values and humanity. I hope the people in our democracies will stand and say NO to all oppression. Democracy is a process and it needs the work by the people to improve it and protect it. 

When I was born in 1941, I was not born fully free in a democracy. The nonviolent Civil Rights Movement by many courageous people improved our democracy for all people of color and women. I became free in 1964.  However, in many countries, democracy is hanging on a cliff. If we truly intend to remain free, we have to do the work to secure our freedoms. Thanks so much. Namaste’ Peace and Love to All.

Festivals & Awards
2024 Berlinale
2024 Cinéma du Réel
Director's Profile

A director, writer, and consultant. She is a local Cairo author, activist, and artist who facilitates empowerment and growth throughout Cairo through her civic and artistic engagement. On The Battlefield is her first film.

2024 On the Battlefield
Lisa Marie MALLOY

An artist committed to engaged modes of filmmaking. Her first feature film, A Shape Of Things To Come (2020), has shown at festivals around the world, including in the main competition of CPH:DOX, NYC Lincoln Center's Art of the Real, RIDM, Documenta Madrid, FICUNAM, and the Centre Pompidou. Her second film, The Raw and the Cooked (2022) is her first short film and premiered at Cinéma du Réel in Paris, France.

2020 A Shape of Things to Come
2022 The Raw and the Cooked
2024 On the Battlefield

Born in 1979 in Marne, Michigan, USA. He studied Philosophy and Film and Chinese Language and Culture. He then attended Harvard University, where he earned an MA in East Asian Studies and a PhD in Social Anthropology with Media. J.P. Sniadecki is an artist, filmmaker, and anthropologist. He currently teaches filmmaking in the Documentary Media MFA programme at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, USA.

2007 Songhua
2008 Demolition
2010 The Yellow Bank
2010 Foreign Parts
2012 People's Park
2013 Yumen
2014 The Iron Ministry
2017 El Mar La Mar
2020 A Shape of Things to Come
2024 On the Battlefield

A local Cairo artist and filmmaker. He is a director, writer, sound recordist, editor, and cinematographer. Previously, he was trained as a concrete worker by his grandfather, worked at the John W Bell Monument Works, and is now a member of Little Egypt Collective. On The Battlefield is his first film.

2024 On the Battlefield
Producer|Rachel BURNS, Karin CHIEN, Judson CHILDS, Theresa DELSOIN, Clarence DOSSIE, Lisa MALLOY, J.P. SNIADECKI, Ray WHITAKER
Scriptwriter/Cinematographer/Editor/Sound|Ray WHITAKER, Lisa MALLOY, J.P. SNIADECKI
Sound Design|Homer MORA
Print Source
Little Egypt Collective|littleegyptcollective@gmail.com


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