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 define the African American narrative and explore the paradigm of resistance against the dominant culture. Mirroring the development of 20th and 21st century black and African American art practice, the history of this cinema is a testament to the rebels and pioneers willing to tell it like it is. Featuring key works by such important voices such as Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, Kathleen Collins, and Spencer Williams, among others, the series seeks to provide counterpoint to the perception that historically—particularly within the Hollywood studio system— black characters have only been relegated to being background figures or racist caricatures. Here, African American experience is foregrounded through the representation of lived experience and told by black filmmakers. Presented in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum’s Constructing Identity exhibition, the series has been 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.

A Dream is What You Wake Up From

Directed by Larry Bullard, Carolyn Y. Johnson

A hybrid film mixing documentary and drama, A Dream is What You Wake Up From is a back-and-forth film detailing

Bamboozled

Directed by Spike Lee

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

Bless Their Little Hearts

Directed by Billy Woodberry

A crucial film about inner-city life and the difficulty of modern Black experience in a capitalist climate which is extremely

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 one of

Losing Ground

Directed by Kathleen Collins

Collins grew up in New Jersey during the period between WWII and the Civil Rights Era and received a BA

Medicine for Melancholy

Directed by Barry Jenkins

Barry Jenkins found mainstream success in 2016 with his Oscar-winning coming-of-age tale Moonlight, but prior to that breakthrough, he made

Passing Through

Directed by Larry Clark

Passing Through, a critical film in cycle of LA Rebellion films produced at UCLA from the late-70s through the mid-80s,

REconstructing Identity: A Shorts Program

Directed by Ulysses Jenkins, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Kevin Jerome Everson, Ina Archer, Chris Harris, Ja'Tovia Gary

As a way to investigate and work through the oppression that stereotypical images in the media can cast upon people

The Blood of Jesus

Directed by Spencer Williams

Spencer Williams, following the example of his precursor Oscar Micheaux, worked on several race films through the 1940s and 1950s,

To Sleep with Anger

Directed by Charles Burnett

To Sleep with Anger, which followed director Charles Burnett’s acclaimed Killer of Sheep and My Brother’s Wedding, explores the past

Tongues Untied!

Directed by Marlon T. Riggs

To this day, probably the most important film on Black gay life in the US is Marlon Riggs’ Tongues Untied!,

Within Our Gates

Directed by Oscar Micheaux

Micheaux, the first Black filmmaker to gain prominence in the US, produced over 40 films during a long career working