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)
IMITATION OF LIFE (1934)
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 (aperturecinema.com) or at the box office.
Film series panels are moderated by:
Ron Stacker Thompson – Screenwriting Faculty Member – UNCSA
Steven Jones – Retired Producing Faculty Member – UNCSA