The purpose of this series is to honor and celebrate the history of black filmmakers, storytellers, actors and creatives during Black History Month. The series aims to go a step beyond the traditional use of film to highlight historical figures and present film as part of the celebration by looking at the history of black cinema.
Taken in its entirety the series will present a history of cinema and the African American experience with cinema in a thoughtful and thorough way. As in many other industries, African Americans have made their mark in film narratively, stylistically, historically, topically, financially and artistically and this series will aim to highlight the route of these significant contributions.
In year two, we will celebrate the career of the legendary and magnificent Lena Horne.
Lena Mary Calhoun Horne (June 30, 1917 – May 9, 2010) was an American singer, dancer, actress, and civil rights activist. Horne’s career spanned over 70 years appearing in film, television, and theater. Horne joined the chorus of the Cotton Club at the age of 16 and became a nightclub performer before moving to Hollywood, where she had small parts in numerous movies, and more substantial parts in the 1943 films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather. Because of the Red Scare and her political activism, Horne found herself blacklisted and unable to get work in Hollywood.
Feb 12 @ 7 pm
The Duke Is Tops is a 1938 American musical film. The film was one of a number of low-budgeted musicals (or “race movies”) made in the 1930s and 1940s for the African-American market. The casts and production teams of these films were almost all black, and the music reflected current tastes in jazz and rhythm and blues.
The Duke Is Tops features the film debut of singer Lena Horne, then just 20, who had yet to develop the smooth, classy style she would distinguish herself with in her later films. Notably, she has a major acting role in this film, something that save for 1943’s Cabin in the Sky, Stormy Weather and a few later films she would rarely enjoy.
Feb 19 @ 7 pm
Stormy Weather is a 1943 American musical film produced. The film is considered one of the best Hollywood musicals with an African-American cast. The film is considered a primary showcase of some of the top African-American performers of the time, during an era when African-American actors and singers rarely appeared in lead roles in mainstream Hollywood productions, especially those of the musical genre.
Stormy Weather is based upon the life and times of its star, dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. Robinson plays “Bill Williamson”, a talented born dancer who returns home in 1918 after fighting in World War I and tries to pursue a career as a performer. Along the way, he approaches a beautiful singer named Selina Rogers, played by Lena Horne. The character of Selina was invented for the film; Robinson did not have such a romance in real life.
Feb 26 @ 7 pm
The Wiz is a 1978 American musical adventure fantasy film. A reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s classic 1900 children’s novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz featuring an all-black cast, the film was loosely adapted from the 1974 Broadway musical of the same name.
Upon its original theatrical release, the film was a critical and commercial failure, and marked the end of the resurgence of Black People films that began with the blaxploitation movement of the early 1970s. Despite its initial failure, it became a cult classic, particularly among black audiences and Oz enthusiasts. Lena Horne plays Glenda the Good Witch.
All tickets $12.50
Tickets may be purchased in advance online (aperturecinema.com) or at the box office. Each film will be followed by a special guest led q&a and discussion.
Black Cinema is a joint collaboration with Tonya Sheffield and Shef-Tales Productions. Tonya Sheffield is a filmmaker and graduate of UNCSA School of Filmmaking. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of The Dream School.
This program received support from