At the midway point of Black Harvest we present three films that celebrate both the future of Black stories on the big screen and the trailblazing, boundary pushing, radical storytellers of the past. We celebrate the conclusion of Black Harvest with a 30th anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s daring and provocative exploration of race, relationships, gender and sex.
KING RICHARD / Wednesday, November 17 / 7:00pm
Armed with a clear vision and a brazen 78-page plan, Richard Williams (Will Smith) is determined to write his daughters, Venus and Serena, into history. Training on Compton, California’s abandoned tennis courts - rain or shine - the girls are shaped by their father’s unyielding commitment and their mother’s balanced perspective and keen intuition, defying the seemingly insurmountable odds and prevailing expectations laid before them. Based on the true story that will inspire the world, “King Richard” follows the uplifting journey of a family whose unwavering resolve and unconditional belief ultimately delivers two of the world’s greatest sports legends.
CHAMELEON STREET / Thursday, November 18 / 6:00pm
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival—yet criminally underseen for over three decades—Chameleon Street recounts the improbable but true story of Michigan con man Douglas Street, the titular “chameleon” who successfully impersonated his way up the socioeconomic ladder by posing as a magazine reporter, an Ivy League student, a respected surgeon, and a corporate lawyer. Elevated by a dexterous performance and daring direction from multi-hyphenate actor-writer-director Wendell B. Harris Jr., the film pins a lens on race, class and performance in American identity, which has lost none of its relevance. At once piercingly funny and aesthetically mischievous, Chameleon Street is a “lost masterpiece of Black American cinema” (BFI) long overdue to take its rightful place in the independent film canon.
Newly restored in 4K from the original camera negative under the supervision of Wendell B. Harris Jr.
SWEET SWEETBACK'S BADASSSS SONG (35mm) / Friday, November 19 & Saturday, November 20 / 9:30pm
A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, after he walked away from a contract with Columbia in order to make his next film on his own terms. Acting as producer, director, writer, composer, editor, and star, Van Peebles created the prototype for what Hollywood would eventually co-opt and make into the blaxploitation hero: a taciturn, perpetually blank-faced performer in a sex show, who, when he’s pushed too far by a pair of racist cops looking to frame him for a crime he didn’t commit, goes on the run through a lawless underground of bikers, revolutionaries, sex workers, and hippies in a kill-or-be-killed quest for liberation from white oppression. Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’s incendiary politics are matched by Van Peebles’s revolutionary style, in which jagged jump cuts, kaleidoscopic superimpositions, and psychedelic sound design come together in a sustained howl of rage and defiance. Restored by The Museum of Modern Art with support from The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
JUNGLE FEVER (35mm) / Thursday, December 2 / 7:00pm
When the news leaks that Flipper (Wesley Snipes), a Black, married lawyer is having an affair with Angie (Annabella Sciorra), his white secretary, Flipper's wife (Lonette McKee) kicks him out of the house. As Flipper and Angie continue their affair, their interracial relationship sparks debate and disapproval among their families, friends and strangers. Closing Night.