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.

“BLACK POWERS: REFRAMING HOLLYWOOD”
Thu/12-July 29
Phyllis Watts Theater, SFMOMA,
Tickets and more info here.