Constructing Identity: Black Cinema Then and Now

  • April 1, 2017 — June 11, 2017

Constructing Identity: Black Cinema Then and Now is a collaborative, retrospective series of films that explore the paradigm of resistance against the dominant culture and define the African-American narrative through the artistry of Black filmmakers. Mirroring the development and flowering of 20th and 21st century Black and African-American art practice, the history of this cinema is a testament to the visionaries, rebels and pioneers that were willing and able to tell it like it is. Featuring key works by critical figures like Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Kathleen Collins, and Spencer Williams—among many other notable filmmakers—this series seeks to upend the idea that historically (most pointedly within the Hollywood studio system), Black bodies have been relegated to be either background figures or racist caricatures. Here, African-American identity is foregrounded through the representation of lived experience; in addition, the films included embody and explore the Black gaze through sole focus on work made by Black filmmakers.

Presented in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum’s Constructing Identity exhibition, and programmed by André Middleton, Mia Ferm, and Morgen Ruff.

Free admission for current Silver Screen Club members at the Supporter level and above. Free admission for current Portland Art Museum members on a first-come, first-served basis (no RSVPs).

Programs April-June 2017 will be announced on a rolling basis, please check back on this page or on the Film Center’s social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) for updates.

Saturday, April 1


Directed by Spike Lee

Routinely (and unfairly) overshadowed by Lee’s better-known films (Do the Right Thing, She’s Gotta Have It, Malcolm X, et al.),

Saturday, April 8

Daughters of the Dust

Directed by Julie Dash

The first film directed by an African-American woman to receive a theatrical release, Daughters of the Dust is a landmark

Saturday, April 15

To Sleep with Anger

Directed by Charles Burnett

To Sleep with Anger—director Charles Burnett’s 3rd major release (following Killer of Sheep and My Brother’s Wedding)—explores the past that

Saturday, April 22

Losing Ground

Directed by Kathleen Collins

Collins, who grew up in Jersey City, NJ during the period between WWII and the Civil Rights Era and received