Friday, February 5, 2021 - 6:00pm
IN CELEBRATION OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
CinemaLit Film Series
February 2021 – Black Lives on Film 2
CinemaLit is featuring four recent films in celebration of Black History Month. Two powerful documentaries, Lorraine Hansberry Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart (2017) and Anita Speaking Truth to Power (2013), examine the lives and work of two history making African American women, one in the arts and humanities, the other in law and justice. Two feature films this month, Oscar winner Moonlight (2016) and indie charmer Miss Juneteenth (2020), are so good they give hope to the future of African American cinema.
February 5 – Lorraine Hansberry Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart (2017) – 117 minutes
“I’m going to write a social drama about Negros that will be good art,” announced Lorraine Hansberry to her husband. She more than achieved that goal with the landmark 1959 American play A Raisin in the Sun. In it, the Younger family matriarch receives $10,000 from her late husband’s life insurance policy, and she wants to use the money to move her family out of Chicago’s South Side. Her son Walter has other plans. Deep emotions come forth, revealing not only troubled family dynamics but also the enduring trauma of American racial segregation.
As the first play written by an African American woman to be produced on Broadway, A Raisin in the Sun was a critical and financial triumph, winning the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and running for 530 performances. It was adapted into a 1961 film starring Sidney Poitier and Raisin, a 1973 Tony award-winning stage musical. Since then it has seen Broadway revivals, a TV movie, radio performances, and countless other professional and amateur productions in the United States and abroad.
Hansberry wrote one other play and was just 34 when she died of cancer in 1965. However, it would be a serious mistake to assume her short life held no other interest besides one towering work of theater. The superb documentary Lorraine Hansberry Sighted Eyes / Feeling Heart looks at the many dimensions of her life. Born the daughter of a Chicago real estate developer, the Younger saga somewhat mirrors her childhood. Unapologetically flexing her sharp intellect in the Eisenhower era, Hansberry became a journalist, writing for Freedom newspaper, founded by Paul Robeson and W E. B. Du Bois, when she was just 21. She entered into an interracial marriage, was under investigation by the FBI, kept company with James Baldwin and Harry Belafonte, and met with Attorney General Robert Kennedy to address the civil unrest gripping America following the Birmingham campaign in 1963. In the process of telling her story, the film sheds light on the creative process, art and consumerism, sexism, civil rights, gender, sexuality, and the sheer loneliness of being Lorraine Hansberry.
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.”
INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOINING THE CINEMALIT SALON
First watch the selected film on Kanopy. 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 for our CinemaLit Salon 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 one day in advance, and then an additional reminder roughly two hours in advance. On the night of the salon click the Zoom link and join us.
If you do not receive a Zoom Link by 4:00 PM on 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.
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.
Future CinemaLit Films
Feb 12 - 6:00pm
Feb 19 - 6:00pm
Feb 26 - 6:00pm