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
“BLACK POWERS: REFRAMING HOLLYWOOD”
Phyllis Watts Theater, SFMOMA,
Tickets and more info here.