The Must-See Black Films at BAMcinemaFest 2014

#BAMcinemaFest presents gripping new films about the Black experience along with the 25th anniversary of @SpikeLee film ‘Do the Right Thing’ p5rn7vb

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by Curtis Caesar John

One of our favorite festivals here at Bold as Love returns this week to Brooklyn.

BAMcinemaFest 2014 features a number of outstanding films, some that capture the wonder of the modern age while also examining what makes people who they are and who they want to be and others that offer a fresh perspective on history.

Our picks this year, with an obvious leaning toward Black thought and imagination, include Concerning Violence, a new documentary from producer Danny Glover and Göran Hugo Olsson, director of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, as well as the 25th anniversary edition of auteur director Spike Lee’s seminal Do The Right Thing, at which various cast members will be in attendance. Also the closing night film, only standby tickets are still available. Also note that BAM will be running their newest retrospective on Lee’s career following the Do The Right Thing BAMcinemaFest screening until July 10.

Also not to be missed is the gripping Evolution of a Criminal, the first feature documentary film from Darius Clark Monroe, one of the fastest rising stars in cinema today.  Also special is the newly restored release of the first-ever filmed documentary on graffiti art, Manfred Kirchheimer’s Stations of the Elevated; 1970’s NYC will be heavily featured here.

BAMcinemaFest runs from June 17th to 29th at BAM Rose Cinemas in Brooklyn, unless otherwise noted. Click THIS link for the entire lineup, which includes other indie treasures like Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter and The Heart Machine.

 

 

The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (part of Yum, Yum, Yum! 3 Movies by Les Blank)

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FREE SCREENING at Brooklyn Bridge Park (Pier 1)

103 min.
Thurs, Jun 19, 2014 at 7PM

In over 40 documentaries, legendary ethnographer of off-beat and unknown Americana Les Blank explored food, music, American micro-cultures, and a wide range of other subjects. BAMcinemaFest pays tribute to his legacy with this outdoor screening featuring Garlic Is as Good as Ten Mothers (1980), Blank’s delightful ode to everyone’s favorite stinking rose; The Blues Accordin’ to Lightnin’ Hopkins (1970), a portrait of the legendary Texas bluesman; and Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (1980), which depicts the very act its title describes. Yum, Yum, Yum! will be followed by a Les Blank retrospective at BAMcinématek later this year. 103min. Courtesy of Janus Films.

Short Clip

 

CONCERNING VIOLENCE

86 min | 2014
Sat, June 21, 2014 at 3:45PM

Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson

Produced by Danny Glover

Set to the voice of songstress Lauryn Hill reading Frantz Fanon’s anti-colonialist call to arms, The Wretched of the Earth, this mesmerizing assemblage of rarely seen archival footage brings to light nine of the most pivotal episodes in the history of African revolution. Documenting decades of uprisings, from the Angolan War of Independence to the Mozambique Liberation Front and beyond, director Göran Hugo Olsson’s (The Black Power Mixtape 1967—1975) propulsive and endlessly provocative docu-essay interrogates the role of violent revolt in the dismantling of colonial power and offers an impassioned tribute to the sacrifices made in the pursuit of liberation. A Kino Lorber release.

Excerpt 1

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MEMPHIS

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76 min. | 2014
Sun, Jun 22, 2014 at 8:30PM

Directed by Tim Sutton

Q&A with director following screening

With Willis Earl Beal, Constance Brantley, Larry Dodson

In a raw, seemingly autobiographical star turn, underground blues singer-poet Willis Earl Beal plays a musician who claims to have mystical powers but can’t seem to finish his next album. Trying the patience of his girlfriend and his producer, he drifts from Baptist church to bar to recording studio in a struggle to regain his creative spark. BAMcinemaFest 2012 alum Tim Sutton (Pavilion) treads the line between documentary and fiction in this sumptuously photographed, daringly abstract portrait of an iconic city, which features a haunting original soundtrack and supporting performances from legendary Stax musicians Larry Dodson and John Gary Williams.

If the film is even half as wondrous as the trailer below, audiences are in for a treat.

A Kino Lorber release.

Trailer

MEMPHIS // a film by tim sutton // TRAILER from v r on Vimeo.

 

 

EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL

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81 min. | 2014
Mon, June 23 at 7pm

Directed by Darius Clark Monroe

Q&A with director following screening

Filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe revisits his journey from honors student to convicted bank robber at the age of 16. Contemplating the ramifications of his crime, Monroe gathers interviews with relatives, accomplices, and victims, who react to his efforts to make amends in unpredictable ways. His unflinching and cathartic confrontation with his past examines how the effects of one bad decision reverberate throughout a community. Spike Lee also serves as Executive Producer on this gripping true-life tale.

 

STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED

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approx. 90 min. | 1981
Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 8PM at the BAM Harvey Theater

Directed by Manfred Kirchheimer

The first ever filmed document of graffiti, Manfred Kirchheimer’s richly chromatic 16mm tone poem sets images of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn to a soundtrack that interweaves ambient city noises with the gutbucket gospel sound of jazz titan Charles Mingus. Long regarded by cinephiles and hip-hop heads as an obscure cult masterpiece since it premiered at the 1981 New York Film Festival, Stations of the Elevated is a celebration of a quintessentially urban art form—at a time when it was largely dismissed as vandalism. With lyrical shots of tagged trains, desolate rail yards, and other details of the urban landscape, it remains a priceless portrait of a bygone era of New York City culture.

World premiere of a new restoration. 

An Artists Public Domain/Cinema Conservancy release. This event will feature live music by the Mingus Dynasty, the original ensemble formed by Sue Mingus after Charles’ death in 1979 to continue his legacy. The Dynasty will perform a set of selections from the film score as a prelude to the screening.

LIFE AFTER DEATH

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75 min. | 2014
Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 3:30PM

Directed by Joe Callander

Q&A with director following screening

Having grown up in the shadow of war and genocide, charismatic but directionless Rwandan orphan Kwasa finds the guidance—and financial aid—he seemingly needs from a charity-minded Christian couple from the US. This multi-layered documentary begins with a wry examination of evangelical Christian philanthropy, but slowly reveals that Kwasa’s benefactors are turning a blind eye to his puckish scheming and unrepentant carousing. Laced with comic touches, Life After Death is a clear-eyed portrait of both Rwandan youth struggling to rise above their country’s troubled history and the well-intentioned outsiders eager to help.

 

Life After Death – Trailer from Joe Callander on Vimeo.

 

Closing Night: DO THE RIGHT THING – 25TH Anniversary

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120 min. | 1989
Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 5PM at the BAM Harvey Theater (Standby Tickets available)

Directed by Spike Lee

Q&A with Spike Lee + select cast following screening

With Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Rosie Perez, Richard Edson, Giancarlo Esposito, Spike Lee, Bill Nunn, John Turturro

BAMcinématek and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences present this 25th anniversary celebration of Spike Lee’s masterpiece, presented on the Steinberg Screen at the BAM Harvey Theater and followed by a Q&A with Lee and cast. In this landmark Brooklyn classic, the streets of Bed-Stuy boil and tensions run high on the hottest day of the year. Loaded with an amazing supporting cast including then relatively unknown actors like Samuel L. Jackson, John Turturro, Martin Lawrence, and Rosie Perez and music by Public Enemy, Do the Right Thing swings effortlessly from satire to social commentary, and 25 years after its controversial release it remains an important cultural touchstone for a very different Brooklyn.

Made even more poignant with the recent passing of screen and stage maven Ruby Dee, this is the hottest ticket in town this month.

The screening will kick off a 12-day retrospective, looking back on three decades of remarkable Spike Lee Joints and commemorating the 15th anniversary of BAMcinématek, which launched in 1999 with a survey of Lee’s career.

Watch the trailer here.

 

 

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Curtis Caesar John is the Film Editor for Bold As Love Magazine. He also covers film and culture for Limité Magazine as well as for Shadow And Act, for which he created the regular feature ‘This Week in Black Television.’ He is born, raised and resides in Brooklyn, NY, of course. Follow him on Twitter at @MediaManWatch.