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Arts + Culture Movies 'Black Powers: Reframing Hollywood' at SFMOMA celebrates plucky cinematic...

‘Black Powers: Reframing Hollywood’ at SFMOMA celebrates plucky cinematic classics

From 'Body and Soul' to 'Do the Right Thing,' the three-week series brings African American directors to the fore.


MOVIES¬†We’re currently in a moment of black film director fierceness: Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and anything by Ava DuVernay grabbed America’s attention, while Boots Riley’s debut Sorry To Bother You (yay, Oakland!), Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Monsters and Men, and a raft of other works by African American directors ride up from the festival circuit through waves of acclaim. Spike Lee is still going strong (cannot wait to catch his film of Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of¬†Antoinette Nwandu’s play “Pass Over”) and Lee Daniels is, too, although he’s moved into the realm of television, which is experiencing its own black golden age. ¬†

It’s a great time to look back on the history of black directors who built the foundation for our blockbuster (and art house) age, and a three week Modern Cinema program at SFMOMA, presented with SFFilm, called “Black Powers: Reframing Hollywood,” (Thu/12-July 29) promises “a decades-spanning program exploring African American filmmakers navigating inside the Hollywood machine and operating outside its boundaries.” A fantastic re-introduction to some film classics (or opportunity to acquaint yourself with unfamiliar ones), the series features 28 films, some with the directors themselves presenting.¬†

Lee is here (with 1989’s¬†Do the Right Thing, of course, the film that provided my wardrobe for years), as is Peele’s ingenious horror-deconstruction¬†Get Out and Jenkins’ breakthrough, SF-based indie Medicine for Melancholy. But it’s a rare chance to see Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 boundary-breaking¬†Body and Soul,¬†James Burnett’s breathtaking 1978 mix of impressionism and social realism¬†Killer of Sheep, Gordon Parks’ 1969 prairie epic The Learning Tree,¬†Julie Dash’s sensual 1991 Gullah period tale¬†Daughters of the Dust, Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 New Queer Cinema landmark¬†Watermelon Woman, Kasi Lemmons’ hothouse Southern drama, and so many more on a big screen.¬†

It all starts tonight, Thu/12, with something that will tickle nightlife fans like me: cerebral audio experimentalist DJ Spooky aka paul D. Miller introduces Body and Soul. (Also for nightlife and music geeks: 1990 rave-up¬†House Party plays Fri/20. Below are some more highlights — for the full program, click here.

  • Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky) will introduce¬†Body and Soul¬†on July 12
  • Ryanaustin Dennis, founding member of¬†The Black Aesthetic¬†in Oakland, will introduce¬†Chameleon Street¬†on July 13, and¬†Ganja and Hess¬†on July 27
  • Director Theodore Witcher will introduce his film¬†Love Jones¬†on July 15
  • Performer Honey Mahogany will introduce¬†Mahogany¬†on July 19
  • Director Cheryl Dunye will introduce her film¬†The Watermelon Woman¬†on July 20
  • Performer, writer, and musician Brontez Purnell will introduce¬†House Party¬†on July 20
  • Director Leslie Harris, will introduce her film¬†Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.¬†on July 21
  • Director Michael Schultz will introduce his films¬†Car Wash¬†on July 21, and¬†Krush Groove¬†on July 22 (plus, following¬†Krush Groove, Schultz will be in conversation with DJ Spooky)
  • Filmmaker Peter Nicks will introduce¬†Fruitvale Station¬†on July 26
  • Filmmaker¬†Mohammad Gorjestani will introduce¬†Middle of Nowhere¬†on July 28
  • Cornelius¬†Moore, co-director of the distribution and production company¬†California Newsreel, will introduce¬†Love & Basketball¬†on July 29

Thu/12-July 29
Phyllis Watts Theater, SFMOMA,
Tickets and more info here.

Marke B.
Marke Bieschke is the publisher and arts and culture editor of 48 Hills. He co-owns the Stud bar in SoMa. Reach him at marke (at), follow @supermarke on Twitter.

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