Until the releases in the past two years of 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained, the subject of slavery, the “peculiar institution” that shaped the American identity and psyche, has been largely absent from the American film and television narratives. Museum of the Moving Image marks the beginning of Black History Month by hosting an afternoon program of rare screenings and lively discussions with major critics and filmmakers that take a close look at the artistic treatment by the filmmakers who get to tell this story and the meanings of the stories they select to tell.
Solomon Northup’s Odyssey
Dir. Gordon Parks. 1984, 115 mins. Digital projection. With Avery Brooks, Rhetta Greene, Mason Adams. Almost 30 years before 12 Years a Slave, the legendary photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks directed this adaptation of Solomon Northup’s memoir about his life as a black man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. At the time of its airing, Gene Siskel wrote, “I don’t believeRoots was any more powerful or better acted than Solomon Northup’s Odyssey.”
“Which Story, What Story, and Whose Story Is Being Told?”
A distinguished panel of critics and historians will discuss the recent the depiction of slavery in such high-profile works as 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained, and other films. Confirmed panelists include Sheril Antonio, Associate Dean, New York University Tisch School of the Arts; Jelani Cobb, Associate Professor of History, University of Connecticut; Stanley Crouch, columnist for the New York Daily News; author and cultural critic Nelson George, and Khalil Muhammad, Director of The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. The panel will be moderated by Warrington Hudlin, Museum trustee and co-curator of Changing the Picture.
“Who Gets to Tell the Story? Why and Why Not?”
Prominent African-American filmmakers discuss the unique challenges they face in telling historically significant stories. Confirmed speakers include Neema Barnette (Woman Thou Art Loosed on the Seventh Day), Warrington Hudlin (Unstoppable), Malcolm Lee (Best Man Holiday), and Shola Lynch (Free Angela Davis). Felicia Lee, cultural reporter for The New York Times, will be the moderator.
Marlon Brando in Burn!
Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo. 1969, 112 mins. Digital projection. With Marlon Brando, Evaristo Márquez, Norman Hill, Renato Salvatori. The professional mercenary Sir William Walker (Marlon Brando) instigates a slave revolt on the Caribbean island of Queimada in order to help impro ve the British sugar trade. Years later he is sent again to deal with the same rebels that he built up because they have seized too much power, threatening British sugar interests. This rarely screened film by the director of The Battle of Algiers features one of Marlon Brando’s strongest performances.
Tickets: $15 ($12 students / $9 Museum members / free for Silver Screen members and above). Ticket includes access to the Museum's galleries and all Massa' Gaze screenings and discussions. Order online or call 718 777 6800 to reserve tickets.
Massa’ Gaze was conceived and organized by Warrington Hudlin in his dual role as President of the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF) and trustee of Museum of the Moving Image. Promotional partners include: WBLS-FM Open Line talk radio show, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (New York Public Library), New York University Tisch School of the Arts, The Eagle Academy for Young Men (a New York City Department of Education public all-boys school), and the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF).