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In accordance with the recent mandate from Oregon Governor Kate Brown, masks are required during Open-Air Cinema at OMSI. Masks continue to be required for all staff and visitors at the Portland Art Museum, including Venice VR Expanded.

Directed by Gordon Parks

United States 1969 107 mins. In English

Based on his own autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree was, according to Roger Ebert, the first non-exploitation feature film made for wide release by an African American director. Set in rural 1920s-1930s Kansas, the film follows the story of Newt (Kyle Johnson), a teenager who must weather the racial prejudices of the time on a daily basis. After witnessing a murder, Newt must weigh what he saw against what it could mean for others in the black community, including his childhood friend Marcus (Alex Clarke). Of all the films that Gordon Parks directed, The Learning Tree was both the most personal and also the one that most dramatically offers links between his work as a master of 20th century photography and his efforts in the cinema. Shot by Burnett Guffey (Bonnie and Clyde, From Here to Eternity), the look of the film attests to the visual acuity of both Parks and his well-seasoned cinematographer. “What the camera had to do was expose the evils of racism, the evils of poverty, the discrimination and the bigotry, by showing the people who suffered most under it.”Gordon Parks.

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.