A Zoom Salon of I Am Not Your Negro (2019) 93 min | Mechanics' Institute

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A Zoom Salon of I Am Not Your Negro (2019) 93 min
August 2020 -Black Lives in Film

CinemaLit Popcorn Pop-Up Salon: July -- French Classics

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!

All you will need is either a Mechanics' 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 [email protected]


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.

 Matthew Kennedy, curator and host

CinemaLit Film Series

August 2020: Black Lives in Film

"Black Lives in Film" is the August theme at CinemaLit. We're screening documentaries on the lives of two pioneering African Americans, author-poet-visionary James Baldwin (I Am Not Your Negro, 2016) and US Congresswoman and presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm (Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, 2004). Additionally, we're showing two feature films – 1991's groundbreaking Daughters of the Dust and 2019's acclaimed The Last Black Man in San Francisco.

CinemaLit is honored to welcome British-born and raised attorney and film critic Omar Moore as guest host for the August 7 discussion of I Am Not Your Negro. Omar is founder of the film essay website The Popcorn Reel where "tasty film talk" is the order of the day. He is a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Film Critics Circle and a former contributing film critic for the PBS television program "Roger Ebert Presents At The Movies". He is the host of The Politicrat, a daily podcast that focuses on contemporary politics as we move toward Election 2020. He can be read in numerous places including Medium. Omar can also be found tweeting about film, politics, and more on Twitter: @thepopcornreel. For more information about Omar, please visit ebertpresents.com.

August 7 - I Am Not Your Negro  (2016)

Eight years before his death in 1987, author James Baldwin (If Beale Street Could Talk, The Price of the Ticket) envisioned his next book. With a working title of "Remember This House," he would examine racism in America through personal reflections and memories of three slain civil right leaders who were also his good friends: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers.

Baldwin wrote just thirty pages of his manuscript, but it became the inspiration for this trenchant, Oscar nominated and BAFTA winning documentary. Directed by Haitian filmmaker-political activist Raoul Peck and narrated by Samuel Jackson, I Am Not Your Negro is awash in clips of popular films back to the 1920s that expose America's appalling perpetuation of black stereotypes and white complacency. Even so, the primary thrust of the film is Baldwin's eyewitness to the civil rights movement from the 1950s to the 1980s. Peck had a treasure trove of letters, notes, and archival footage to work from. The result is an invaluable distillation of an era brought to life by Baldwin's incisive denunciations of American racism and injustice. It could not be more timely. I Am Not Your Negro challenges viewers to take note and take action. "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced," he said. Baldwin scoured the country past and present, from lynchings and Jim Crow in the South to morally lazy and ineffectual white liberals in the North. "The story of the negro in America is the story of America," says Baldwin. "And it is not a pretty story."

We welcome guest host film critic Omar Moore to the discussion of I Am Not Your Negro.


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.”

Register with Eventbrite below.

If the green TICKET button is not immediately visible, scroll down on the right in the Eventbrite window until it appears


CinemaLit Films

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

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Oct 8 - 6:00pm

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Oct 15 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit - The Thin Man (1934) – 93 minutes
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Oct 22 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit - Theodora Goes Wild (1936) – 94 minutes
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Oct 29 - 6:00pm

CinemaLit - Design for Living (1933) – 91 minutes
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