Featuring an introduction from special guest Ayana Contreras!

“Josephine Baker at her vivacious peak.” Phil Hall, Film Threat

Buoyed by the success of the French musical ZOU ZOU a year earlier, the same team created this comedy in which a mischievous shepherd girl rises through society to become a pretend princess and the toast of Paris nightlife. While in Tunisia seeking inspiration for a new novel, a French aristocrat (Albert Préjean) becomes infatuated with the innocent gamin Alwina (Josephine Baker) and constructs a plot to bring her back to Paris and pass her off as an Indian princess. In a thinly veiled parallel to Baker’s own experience, Alwina becomes a celebrity, a favorite subject for the city’s great artists, and a guest at the most important social events. Her rise to notoriety climaxes in a posh nightclub, where she strips off her shimmering evening gown and dances as only La Baker could. (Criterion)

Content consideration: PRINCESSE TAM-TAM includes language and depictions of racial stereotypes. As suggested by the Criterion Channel, we encourage you to view scholar Terri Simone Francis' contextualization of Josephine Baker’s film career in the “Terri Simone Francis on Josephine Baker” video available on the Channel, and/or Francis’ conversation about her book, “Josephine Baker’s Cinematic Prism”, with Nina Collins on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1KpQXp7SqE


"In PRINCESSE TAM-TAM, Josephine Baker shimmers as a North African nomadic woman who enters high society under a guise of royalty concocted by a French author. I love most how the movie veers from the predictable Pygmalion trope when she makes a choice between assimilation with and rejection of what is presented as "civilization". The plastic existence afforded by so-called modernity is exposed as counterfeit, and her native African culture is unveiled as both noble and marvelous."

Ayana Contreras

Ayana Contreras is a cultural historian, radio DJ and archivist.  An avid collector with over 8000 vintage vinyl records, she hosts the Reclaimed Soul program on WBEZ and Vocalo Radio in Chicago. She is also a columnist for DownBeat magazine, and her book on Post-Civil Rights Era cultural history, titled Energy Never Dies: Afro-Optimism and Creativity in Chicago, is scheduled for publication December 2021 through University of Illinois Press.

Updated COVID-19 Protocols

Dear Friends,

We care deeply about the well-being and safety of our audiences and staff. With the recent rise of COVID-19 cases, we are updating our health and safety procedures to require proof of full vaccination* or a negative result on a COVID PCR test for all screenings and events at the Film Center. 

We know it can be hard to enjoy a movie without knowing the status of the folks sitting close to you.  Our hope is that these new procedures will allow you to relax and view our films in the way they’re meant to be seen--with your undivided attention to the screen.

Beginning on Friday, September 10, you will need a valid photo ID and one of the following items to gain entry to the Film Center:

  • Physical vaccination card
  • A legible photo, copy, or scan of your card; an image on your phone will be acceptable provided that it is legible 
  • Proof of a negative result on a COVID PCR test conducted within 72 hours of the film or event start time

*Full vaccination means any vaccine for COVID-19 which has received full or emergency use approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO). Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series or a single dose from a one-dose series of a COVID-19 vaccine authorized for use by the FDA or WHO.

You will need to show proof of vaccination status or a negative PCR test result as you enter the theater. 

Children under 12 will not be permitted in the theater, since they are not yet eligible to receive a vaccine. 

In addition, the Film Center will continue to implement the following safety protocols:

  • In accordance with the Governor's recent Executive Order, all patrons and staff will be required to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth at all times while in the theater
  • Staggered showtimes and ample time between shows to mitigate crowds
  • Ticket pre-orders for films encouraged to reduce lines and guarantee seats
  • Hand sanitizer and disposable face masks available for patrons
  • Only 80% of our tickets will be available for sale
  • No eating or drinking will be permitted in the theater; no concessions will be sold

The Film Center reserves the right to require patrons who do not follow these procedures to leave the theater immediately.

As always, if you are feeling unwell for any reason, please stay home and stream films instead of joining us at the theater. We are happy to refund or exchange your ticket for another time.  In addition, please understand that while these updated procedures are intended to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, there is nonetheless inherent risk to exposure in any indoor space where others are present.  Those entering the theater do so at their own risk to such exposure.  

If you have already purchased a ticket for a screening on Friday, September 10 (or beyond) but are unable to comply with these new procedures, please contact us at filmcenter@saic.edu for a refund. 

We appreciate your cooperation and support as we continue to navigate the ever-changing COVID landscape.

See you at the movies!

--Your Friends at the Film Center