A Zoom Discussion of Black Orpheus (1959) 100 min | Mechanics' Institute

You are here

A Zoom Discussion of Black Orpheus (1959) 100 min
June 2020 - Love and Romance in Faraway Places

Friday, June 12, 2020 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit Curator Matthew Kennedy

CinemaLit Popcorn Pop-Up Salon: May British New Wave

Hello Film Lovers,

Welcome back to CinemaLit! We have missed our Friday night gatherings. Laura, Pam, and I are excited to launch this new format for CinemaLit as we Shelter at Home. We will be viewing films on Kanopy and gathering online for a Popcorn Pop-Up Salon!

We start up the summer with a month of Romance in Full Color with four films to carry us away:  Summertime (1955), Black Orpheus (1959), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) and the beautiful, heartbreaking The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964).

All you will need is either a Mechanic’s Institute library card, or a San Francisco Public Library card, which will give you access to Kanopy and its treasure trove of movies. Make a reservation as usual via Eventbrite and watch the film on Kanopy at your leisure. You will receive a link to the Friday night CinemaLit salon on Zoom two days in advance. On the night of the salon click the Zoom link and join us.

If you do not receive a Zoom Link by the day of the event, contact Pam Troy at rsvp@milibrary.org.


Mechanics’ Institute members can now sign up for FREE access to Kanopy, a wonderful film streaming service. To sign up:

1. Click on  THIS LINK.

2. Click on the large orange login button that reads, “Log in to milibrary.”

3. Enter the 14-digit bar code from your MI Library card

4. Set up your account following Kanopy’s instructions, including your email and a password.

5. Kanopy will send verification to your email address.

You’ll be able to choose from a wonderful selection of films, including classics, pre-code, foreign films, and documentaries, including the films we’ve scheduled this month for CinemaLit.

If you are not a Mechanics’ Institute member, consider membership and click  HERE  to join online:

Or, you can check with your public library to see if they are Kanopy members. If so, you may use your public library card to set up a Kanopy account.

Since we all might be going a bit stir crazy, for our second month of CinemaLit while sheltering, we're highlighting films shot on location far from North America. They are all classics exploring the various joys and heartaches of love and romance. Additionally, they are all brimming with color and music. Only one is in English. Two won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. All four are dedicated to matters of the heart.

Grab your popcorn and hankies and join us on Friday nights in June! 

Matthew Kennedy, curator and host

CinemaLit Film Series

Black Orpheus (1959)

Black Orpheus is built on one brilliant high-concept – transplanting the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice to Rio de Janiero during Carnaval. The tragic romance plays out against an indelible fusion of color, light, dance, costumes, and music.

Black Orpheus comes with a patchwork quilt of international credits. Though it is steeped in Brazilian urban culture, with filming on the streets and slums of Rio, director Marcel Camus was French, as was its cinematographer and editor. It was a co-production of three companies from Brazil, Italy, and France. Marpessa Dawn as Eurydice was born in Pittsburgh of American-American and Filipino ancestry. Breno Mello was a soccer player with no acting experience when Camus approached him to play Orpheus.

The film was a huge art house hit, earned the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and delivered the bossa nova to phonographs across America. "Manhã de Carnaval" ("Carnival Morning") remains a haunting melody of love. Most significantly, Black Orpheus has influenced a number of artists, filmmakers, and composers, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bong Joon-ho, and Vince Guaraldi. Black Orpheus is simply an unforgettable movie.


Curated by Matthew Kennedy

Matthew Kennedy, CinemaLit’s curator, has written biographies of Marie Dressler, Joan Blondell, and Edmund Goulding. His book Roadshow! The Fall of Film Musicals in the 1960s, was the basis of a film series on Turner Classic Movies. 

I don't have a favorite film,” Matthew says. "I find that my relationships to films, actors, genres, and directors change as I change over the years. Some don't hold up. Some look more profound, as though I've caught up with their artistry. I feel that way about Garbo, Cary Grant, director John Cassavetes, and others."

Classic films have historical context, something only time can provide,” Matt observes. “They become these great cultural artifacts, so revealing of tastes, attitudes, and assumptions.”


CinemaLit Films

Members Free
Public Free
Register now ›
Pam Troy - 415-393-0116
Register now by using the form below or calling .

Future CinemaLit Films

Jun 19 - 6:00pm

A Zoom Discussion of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) 119 min
June 2020 - Love and Romance in Full Color

Jun 26 - 6:00pm

A Zoom Discussion of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) 91 min
June 2020 - Love and Romance in Full Color