CFA and The Black Cinema House join forces to bring outdoor film screenings to Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. Join us on select Fridays this summer for extraordinary and rarely seen films. Our Performance Series includes Duke Ellington’s 1964 tour of Japan, gospel and folktales from the Delta, and the 1976 Oscar-winning film “American Shoeshine”. A special screening of a Spencer Williams classic will cap off the Summer Cinema Series – 2013. Get relief from the heat under the stars with sights and sounds from our past.
WHAT HAPPENS IF IT RAINS?: We’ll move it indoors! (stay tuned the day of each screening for updates)
MAY 24: Performance Series Part 1 (in anticipation of Chicago’s Blues Festival)
THE BLUES (1973), Directed by Samuel Charters (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 20 min.
Samuel Charters, an American music historian and Grammy-winning music producer, captures southern blues musicians in their own environments — alleyways, porches, front stoops and home interiors. Featuring performances by J.D. Short, Pink Anderson, Furry Lewis, Baby Tate, Memphis Willie B., Gus Cannon and Sleepy John Estes.
GIVE MY POOR HEAR EASE: MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUESMEN (1975), Directed by Bill Ferris, Produced by Yale University Media Design Studio with the Center for Southern Folklore (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 21 min.
An account of the blues experience through the recollections and performances of B.B. King, Son Thomas, inmates from Parchman prison, a barber from Clarkesdale and a salesman from Beale Street. The film is one of a series of films made in Mississippi in the mid 1970s by William Ferris and the Center for Southern Folklore and produced in association with Howard Sayre Weaver. This fieldwork is the basis for Ferris’s 2009 book Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues. (Description Courtesy of the Center for Southern Folklore)
AMERICAN SHOESHINE (1976), directed by Sparky Greene (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 29 min.
American Shoeshine, a film about the shoeshine trade, was nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Short Documentary” in 1976. Greene doesn’t get in the way of his subjects, allowing the stories to stand on their own.
JUNE 21: Performance Series Part 2 “Folktales and Folk Music” (co-presented with the Center for Southern Folklore; Judy Peiser of the Center for Southern Folklore in person!)
HUSH HOGGIES HUSH: TOM JOHNSON’S PRAYING PIGS (1978), Center for Southern Folklore, 4 min.
A witty film about Tom Johnson’s remarkable hobby–teaching his pigs to pray before they eat. “Most everybody I know,” Johnson says, “Is amazed to see this.” And you’ll be amazed too.
ALL DAY & ALL NIGHT: MEMORIES FROM BEALE STREET MUSICIAN (1990), Robert Gordon & Louis Guida, 26 min.
A personal look at life on Beale Street in Memphis, TN, one of the legendary homes of the blues. B.B. King and Rufus “Funky Chicken” Thomas are among the featured musicians who practiced their craft on Beale Street and helped shape today’s jazz and blues.
GRAVEL SPRINGS FIFE AND DRUM (1972), David Evans, Bill Ferris, Judy Peiser, 10 min.
A compelling and award-winning portrait of Othar Turner, his music and their role in the Gravel Springs community. The film not only demonstrates how to make a cane fife, but also gets to the heart of both Turner and his fife and drum music as he’s shown performing at an annual Fourth of July picnic. (Description Courtesy of the Center for Southern Folklore)
FANNIE BELL CHAPMAN: GOSPEL SINGER (1975), Bill Ferris, Judy Peiser, Bobby Taylor, 42 min.
A profile of Mississippi gospel singer and folk healer Fannie Bell Chapman.
These 4 films will be presented by Judy Peiser – co-founder & Executive Director of the Center for Southern Folklore and producer of HUSH HOGGIES HUSH, ALL DAY & ALL NIGHT, GRAVEL SPRINGS FIFE AND DRUM and FANNIE BELL CHAPMAN. She will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening.
JULY 19: Spencer Williams Feature
THE VANITIES (1946), Alexander Productions (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 10 min.
Charles Keith is the Master of Ceremonies of a nightclub act. He first impersonates Bette Davis, and this longish Bette Davis ‘rap’ gradually convinces us that we are not only hearing, but also seeing, the real Bette. Joesfred Portree sings “I love My Daddy But I’ve Got To Have My Fun” and “Little Audrey” Armstrong dances to “On The Solid Side”. (Description courtesy of Southern Methodist University)
JUKE JOINT (1947), Directed by Spencer Williams (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 68 min.
This feature presents Williams and Jones as down and out in the Great Southwest. They pose as theatrical experts and get free room and board in the Holliday home for helping Honeydew prepare to win a beauty pageant. Florida, the other daughter, is propositioned by the owner of a Juke Joint, who wants to take her to Chicago, but the two ”theatrical experts” and Mama Lou’s sense of righteousness keep the family intact. (Description courtesy of Southern Methodist University)
AUGUST 16: Performance Series Part 3 (in anticipation of Chicago’s Jazz Festival)
DUKE ELLINGTON SWINGS THROUGH JAPAN (1964), Produced by Isaac Kleinerman for CBS News,(from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 25 min.
Presents a portrait of American Jazz Musician Duke Ellington and his fourteen musicians as they tour Japan in 1964. Part of the CBS News series “The 20th Century” narrated by Walter Cronkite.
ROBERTA FLACK (1971), Produced & Written by Cherrill Anson, Directed & Edited by David W. Powell (from the Chicago Public Library Collection), 29 min.
A portrait of the American singer, songwriter and musician Roberta Flack. The film combines candid interviews with Roberta alongside footage of her performances at the Newport Jazz Festival and at Mr. Henry’s in Washington, DC.
DIFFERENT DRUMMER: ELVIN JONES (1979), Directed by Edward Gray (from the Minnesota State University Collection), 29 min.
An exploration of the musical imagination of the talented jazz drummer Elvin Jones (1927-2004), whose list of collaborators include John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell and Miles Davis. The film traces the origin, arrangement, and performance of an original Elvin Jones composition, while also presenting personal scenes of Jones at church and with his family.