Black Cinema a/ journey presents Imitation of Life - Aperture Cinema - Winston Salem, NC
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Black Cinema a/ journey presents Imitation of Life

Special Events
About This Project

The purpose of this series is to honor and celebrate the history of black filmmakers, storytellers, actors and creatives during Black History Month. The series aims to go a step beyond the traditional use of film to highlight historical figures and present film as part of the celebration by looking at the history of black cinema.Taken in its entirety the series will present a history of cinema and the African American experience with cinema in a thoughtful and thorough way. As in many other industries, African Americans have made their mark in film narratively, stylistically, historically, topically, financially and artistically and this series will aim to highlight the route of these significant contributions.

Tuesday, February 13 @ 6pm (film followed by panel)


The first of two film versions of Fannie Hurst’s novel, 1934’s Imitation of Life chronicles the friendship between two women–one white (Claudette Colbert), one black (Louise Beavers). Colbert is a widow with a baby daughter who hires Beavers, who also has a daughter, as a housekeeper. Colbert is a working girl who yearns to operate her own business, which she does thanks to Beavers’ special pancake recipe. A family friend (Ned Sparks) suggests that the ladies form a corporation to merchandise the “Aunt Delilah” pancake mix, and within ten years both women are quite wealthy. Colbert’s relationship with her teenaged daughter (Rochelle Hudson) is strained when both ladies vie for the attentions of the same man, but these problems are minor compared to the travails of Beavers, who not only must deal with the De Facto segregation of the 1930s but must also contend with her restless daughter (Fredi Washington), who resents being an African-American and attempts to pass for white. The heartbroken Beavers dies, and at her funeral her now-chastened daughter weeps out her apologies for turning her back on her mother. Imitation of Life was remade in 1959, its story glamorized and updated to accommodate star Lana Turner.

Tuesday, February 20 @ 6pm (film followed by panel)


After several years working along the margins of the underground film scene in New York, director Robert Downey broke through to wider recognition with the arthouse hit Putney Swope, a wildly irreverent satire of race and advertising in America. Putney Swope (Arnold Johnson) is the token African-American executive at an otherwise all-white advertising agency when the chairman of the board unexpectedly drops dead. Through a fluke in the chain of command, Swope becomes the new head of the firm, and decides its time to do things his way. He fires nearly all the staff (except for his one token white employee), renames the agency Truth and Soul, Inc., and announces they’ll no longer accept accounts advertising tobacco, alcohol, or war toys. The ads they do produce — for acne remedies and breakfast cereal, among other things — are wildly successful, and the iconoclastic ad agency (which only accepts payment in cash) is targeted by government operatives as a threat to the national security. Antonio Fargas and Allen Garfield lead the supporting cast; Mel Brooks makes a cameo appearance.

Tuesday, February 27 @ 6pm (film followed by panel)


Selma is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s SELMA tells the real story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

All tickets $12.50

Tickets may be purchased in advance online ( or at the box office.

Film series panels are moderated by:

Ron Stacker Thompson – Screenwriting Faculty Member – UNCSA

  • Over 30 years of experience as a screenwriter and film producer.
  • Founder and Artistic Director of Oakland Ensemble Theatre, the first theatre on the west coast to specialize in multi­racial casting.
  • Writer, director and producer for 15 years of the Oscar Micheaux Black Filmmakers’ Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony.
  • Collaborated professionally with Martin Luther King’s daughter Yolanda, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen Burstyn, Maya Angelou, Laurence Fishburne, Jeff Goldblum and Maggie Smith, among others.

Steven Jones – Retired Producing Faculty Member – UNCSA

  • Over 20 years of experience as a producer in the film industry.
  • He has produced a variety of music videos, commercials, documentaries and feature films, such as the critically acclaimed Daughters of the Dust, the Sci-fi thriller, Eyeborgs and Chicks 101.
  • Originally from New York, he co-founded an afterschool program for “at risk” youth and is now locally involved in The Dream School – an afterschool and summer program that utilizes digital and other forms of technology to enhance adults and youth (ages 12-18 years old) in basic learning skills, such as reading, writing, research and team work.