Friday, February 26, 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 26 – Miss Juneteenth (2020) – 100 minutes
Maybe Miss Juneteenth passed you by. It played Sundance last January, largely eschewed theaters, and quietly began streaming on June 19, or Juneteenth, the holiday celebrating the emancipation of American slaves. It deserves wider notice. Miss Juneteenth is a gem of a movie, largely overlooked between limited marketing, George Floyd's killing and its aftermath, and a pandemic.
Single mother Turquoise (Nicole Beharie) works two jobs - waitress in a ribs joint and make-up artist in a funeral home - while raising her teenaged daughter Kai (Alexis Chikaeze) in a suburb of Fort Worth. She pushes Kai to enter the local pageant that comes with a college scholarship. Kai is thoroughly uninterested, but the generational conflict does not go as expected. "Ain't no American dream for black folks," says Turquoise's kindly employer. By the end of the film, she has proved him wrong.
Miss Juneteenth quickly moves from a standard tale of mother and daughter at odds to something more dramatically rich and unusual. It depicts not just the pernicious segregation of races in America, but classism within a tight-knit black community. In a world rarely seen in feature films, director-screenwriter Channing Godfrey Peoples explores regrets, shame, and second chances.
Though the film is foremost concerned with mother-daughter relationships, the men in Turquoise's life are written and portrayed with depth and nuance. Kai's father is sort of halfway available for parenting. There's nary a cardboard character or emotionally false moment in the entire film. Peoples, a Fort Worth native who studied film at USC, has said she aimed for authenticity. She avoids speeches and easy platitudes, instead letting these characters simply be. She is a young filmmaker, and most assuredly someone to watch.
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 5 - 6:00pm
Feb 12 - 6:00pm
Feb 19 - 6:00pm