multi cultural

Tell it Like it is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986 Feb 6-19

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER PRESENTS
Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968-1986
February 6-19
 
Includes work from filmmakers Pearl Bowser, Kathleen Collins,
William Greaves, Bill Gunn, Jessie Maple and Spike Lee
 
Collins’s Losing Ground (1982) will have its long overdue theatrical
premiere with a one-week theatrical run starting onFebruary 6
 
Cast and crew reunion screening of Personal Problems, with guests
including Ishmael Reed, Dr. Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor and Sam Waymon


 
New York, NY (December 19, 2014) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center will present Tell It Like It Is: Black Independents in New York, 1968–1986, a series of key films, starting with William Greaves’s seminal Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One and culminating with Spike Lee’s first feature, the independently produced She’s Gotta Have It which launched a new era of studio filmmaking by black directors. This program includes major works by some of the great filmmakers of this (or any) era in cinema. During this time, activist New York–based black independent filmmakers created an exciting body of work despite lack of support and frequent suppression of minority film production. Programmed by Michelle Materre and Film Society of Lincoln Center Programmer at Large Jake Perlin, co-presented by Creatively Speaking. Tickets will go on sale Thursday, January 15, 2015.
 
Dennis Lim, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Director of Programming said, “This is a landmark program that sheds overdue light on an incredibly rich, varied, and undertold chapter of American film history. There are many groundbreaking works here by many singular figures, and we’re proud to present this essential series here at the Film Society.”  
 
In early 1968, William Greaves began shooting in Central Park, and the resulting film, Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, came to be considered one of the major works of American independent cinema. Later that year, following a staff strike, WNET’s newly created program, Black Journal (with Greaves as Executive Producer) was established “under black editorial control” and as home base for a new generation of filmmakers redefining documentary. (1968 also marked the production of the first Hollywood studio film directed by an African American, Gordon Park’s The Learning Tree.) Shortly thereafter, actor/playwright/screenwriter/novelist Bill Gunn directed the studio-backed Stop, which remains unreleased by Warner Bros. to this day. Gunn, rejected by the industry that had courted him, then directed the independent classic Ganja and Hess (which has been remade by Spike Lee as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and will open in February),ushering in a new type of horror film, which Ishmael Reed called “what might be the country’s most intellectual and sophisticated horror film.”
 
Women filmmakers play a prominent role throughout the series, starting with the exclusive one-week theatrical premiere of Losing Ground, directed by the late Kathleen Collins, one of the first feature films written and directed by a black woman. Collins’s first film, The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy, also never released theatrically, will screen in newly remastered version created by the filmmaker’s daughter, Nina, along with a video interview with the filmmaker. Nina Collins will be on hand to present her mother’s films on opening night,February 6, along with co-producer/cinematographer Ronald Gray andLosing Ground star Seret Scott.
 
February 11, Madeline Anderson will present her films, including the classic I Am Somebody, her first documentary, as well as work fromBlack Journal. On February 13 filmmakers Christine Choy, Susan Robeson, and Camille Billops will discuss their work screened in the Women’s Work Program, a selection of films bringing to light the remarkable contributions of female storytellers and their image-making prowess. Trailblazer Jessie Maple, will be in attendance onFebruary 16 to present her films Will and Twice As Nice.
 

For their support and expertise, the programmers gratefully thank Pearl Bowser, Louise Greaves, Jane Fuentes, Marsha Schwam, Elena Rossi-Snook, Amy Heller, Dennis Doros and Ishmael Reed, and the filmmakers Jessie Maple, Charles Hobson, Madeline Anderson, Pat Hartley, Kent Garrett, Woodie King Jr., and Al Santana.
 
Thank you to Elena Rossi-Snook & Johnny Gore (New York Public Library for the Performing Arts), Nina Collins, Ronald Gray, Chiz Schultz, Anne Morra & Mary Keene (MoMA), Lisa Collins, Mark Schwartzburt, Amy Heller & Dennis Doros (Milestone Films), Shola Lynch (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture), Kate Manion, Devorah Heitner, Brian Graney (The Black Film Center/Archive, Indiana University), Seret Scott, Nellie Killian, Marilyn Nance, Judy Bourne, Livia Bloom (Icarus Films), Roselly A. Torres Rojas (Third World Newsreel), Kazembe Balagun (Rosa Luxemburg Shiftung NYC), Chris Hill, Rebecca Cleman, Kristen Fitzpatrick (Women Make Movies), Jane Gutteridge (National Film Board of Canada), Liz Coffey & Haden Guest (Harvard Film Archive).
 
For sale at the Film Society, beginning February 6, in conjunction with this series: Bill Gunn’s Rhinestone Sharecropping (a novel) and Black Picture Show (a play), published by I Reed Press, and How to Become a Union Camerawoman by Jessie Maple, published by LJ Film Productions.
 

FILMS, DESCRIPTIONS & SCHEDULE
Screenings will take place at the Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street)
and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (144 West 65th Street)


Black Journal Program
USA, 1968, digital projection, approx. 70m
The first nationally broadcast black newsmagazine, produced by William Greaves and hosted by Wali Saddiq and Greaves, was home to a who’s who of producers, directors, editors and cinematographers—Madeline Anderson, Kent Garrett, St. Clair Bourne, Charles Hobson, to name only a few—working in a diversity of styles: interviews, skits, commentary, investigative reporting, all with a degree of creativity and experimentation still unrivaled for TV.
*Wednesday, February 116:00pm (Q&A with Charles Hobson, Louise Greaves, Kent Garrett, and Madeline Anderson)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy
Kathleen Collins, USA, 1980, DCP, 50m
Kathleen Collins’s first film is an adaptation of a series of short stories by Henry H. Roth about three young Puerto Rican men whose lives are watched over by their father’s ghost. New York’s Rockland County serves as the setting for the magic that the urban-born trio encounters when they meet Miss Malloy, an elderly widow who owns a house in need of some tender loving care. Never released theatrically, airing only once on cable TV, and then disappearing from view, the film has been rescued and re-mastered by the filmmaker’s daughter, Nina and Milestone Films. Screening with a video interview with Kathleen Collins. A Milestone Films Release.
Friday, February 6, 6:30pm (Introduction by Nina Collins and Ronald K. Gray)
*Wednesday, February 11, 3:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
A Dream is What You Wake Up From
Larry Bullard & Carolyn Johnson, USA, 1978, 16mm, 50m
Three black families, observed in their daily lives, their thoughts, values, and aspirations expressed on the soundtrack, and their different approaches to the struggle for survival in contemporary society and their methods of coping with the contradictory stresses placed on the individual in the family environment.
 
Screening with:
Black Faces
Young Filmmakers Foundation, USA, 1970, 16mm, 1m
A montage of faces from the Harlem community. Black Faces is courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, preserved with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
*Thursday, February 19, 5:30pm (Q&A with JT Takagi of Third World Newsreel and Elena Rossi-Snook of New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
An Evening with Jessie Maple
A trailblazer and pioneer, Jessie Maple was the first African-American woman to gain entry in New York’s camera operators union, taking the case to court to fight discrimination after she was a member, and writing an invaluable book about her life and experience, How to Become a Union Camerawoman. After directing the film Will, and in need of a venue to premiere it, she and her husband Leroy Patton (also a cinematographer) built and founded the independent cinema 20 West in Harlem.
 
Will
Jessie Maple, USA, 1981, 16mm, 70m
“I wanted to show the neighborhood—that everything was there, right in the neighborhood,” so says Jessie Maple in describing her feature debut. This is the story of Will, a basketball coach fighting demons, a full picture of dealing with modern urban life—uptown—is revealed. “No matter how low you are you can come back up. That’s what Willis. People can’t count themselves out that quick.” Preserved by New York Women in Film and Television’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund. Print courtesy of Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University.
*Monday, February 16, 6:30pm (Q&A with Jessie Maple)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Twice as Nice
Jessie Maple, USA, 1989, 70m
Maple’s second narrative feature uses an intimate story—the relationship of twin college basketball players—to examine the nature of sisterhood, competition, and friendship. As with her documentary work, Maple looks at everyday events and ponders the visible but especially the invisible.
*Monday, February 16, 8:45pm (Introduction by Jessie Maple)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Ganja and Hess
Bill Gunn, USA, 1973, 35mm, 113m
Screened at Cannes in 1973 before being recut against the filmmaker's wishes for its U.S. release, Ganja and Hess was first made available years later in its intended version by independent distributor Pearl Bowser, and, now restored, is considered a classic. Conceived as a vampire tale, Gunn’s film is a formally radical and deeply philosophical inquiry into passion and history. “A film that was ahead of its time in 1973, and quite frankly, is still very much so today… maybe the rest of world will eventually catch up.” – Tambay A. Obenson. With Marlene Clarke, Duane Jones, and music by Sam Waymon. Preserved by the Museum of Modern Art with support from the Film Foundation.
Saturday, February 75:00pm (Post-screening discussion with film scholar Pearl Bowser and Sam Waymon)
Sunday, February 8, 8:00pm
 
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Dick Fontaine & Pat Hartley, USA,1982, 16mm, 95m
James Baldwin retraces his time in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, reflecting with his trademark brilliance and insight on the passage of 20 years. From Selma and Birmingham, to the battleground beaches of St. Augustine, Florida, with Chinua Achebe, and back north for a visit to Newark with Amiri Baraka.
*Thursday, February 12, 4:00 & 9:00pm (Q&A with Pat Hartley and Rich Blint at the 4:00pm show)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
I Remember Harlem
William Miles, USA, 1981, 16mm, 240m
“What really made Harlem ‘Harlem’” is what renowned visual historian William Miles, set out to explore when he produced and directed this epic work. Harlem has since become an intersection of cultures, classes, and colors that still maintains a distinctive sense of identity, which Miles lovingly illustrates with his personal connection and commitment to this epicenter of African-American cultural life. We lost this great voice in May 2013 when Miles passed away at the age of 82. Courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, preserved with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
*Saturday, February 14, 4:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
In Motion: Amiri Baraka and The New-Ark
Amiri Baraka
St. Clair Bourne, USA, 1983, digital projection, 60m
This video portrait, filmed in the days leading up to Amiri Baraka’s appeal of his punitive 90-day sentence for resisting arrest following an argument in his car outside the 8th Street Playhouse movie theater, documents Baraka at his radio show, at home with his wife and children, and performing at readings. It is a delicate vision of a revolutionary who has grown quieter—though never at rest, and as sage as ever.
Screening with a performance by Leroi Jones’s Young Spirit House Movers, broadcast on Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant (USA, 1968, digital projection, 10m).
 
Screening with:
The New-Ark
Amiri Baraka, USA, 1968, digital projection, 25m
Produced by Harlem Audio-Visual and part of the collection of cameraman and producer James E. Hinton at the Harvard Film Archive, this film, previously believed to be lost, depicts the activism, educational programs, and art taking place at the Spirit House community center in Newark, NJ. Digital preservation by Anthology Film Archives. From the James Hinton Collection at the Harvard Film Archives.
*Tuesday, February 17, 9:00pm 
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Inside Bedford-Stuyvesant Program
USA, 1968-1971, digital projection, approx. 70m
Produced by Charles Hobson and aired on WNEW (better known as Channel 5), this weekly show was originally conceived by Robert F. Kennedy’s organization and community boosters to counter images of black neighborhoods as presented in the mainstream news. It is considered the first African American–produced television series in the USA. Hosted by Roxie Roker and Jim Lowry, the program reflected the home of 400,000 people as it transitioned into a new era, featuring open and unscripted dialogues with residents, guest celebrities, and, most notably, a powerful public forum with Harry Belafonte. This program will feature a selection of episodes, presented by Charles Hobson.
Sunday, February 8, 3:00pm (Q&A with Charles Hobson)
 
Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads
Spike Lee, USA, 1983, 16mm, 60m
Spike Lee’s NYU Masters program thesis (and the first student feature film ever selected for New Directors/New Films) is a precocious work from a major artist, irrefutable evidence that its maker would go on to become one of the greats.
 
Screening with:
A Place in Time
Charles Lane, USA, 1977, 16mm, 34m
Courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, preserved with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
*Thursday, February 19, 7:15pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
Kent Garrett Program
Two docs made for Black Journal, examining the perennial outsider status accorded to those ostensibly on the inside. In Central Harlem, at the height of the Black Power movement, a policeman discusses his role in and out of the uniform, contrasted with the experiences of a colleague in the LAPD. For African-American soldiers in Vietnam, the contradiction of being expected to defend liberties not granted at home is evident. Courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
 
The Black GI
Kent Garrett, USA, 1971, 16mm, 54m
 
The Black Cop
Kent Garrett, USA, 1969, 16mm, 15m
*Friday, February 13, 8:30pm (Q&A with Kent Garrett andKazembe Balagun)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
The Long Night
Woodie King, Jr., USA, 1976, 35mm, 85m
One night in the life of a young boy on the street, encountering the denizens of mid-1970s Harlem, while commenting on Vietnam, marital discord, paternal relationships, substance abuse, schooling, and unemployment—in short, the life of an American family.
*Thursday, February 12, 6:30pm (Q&A with Woodie King, Jr.)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Losing Ground
Kathleen Collins, USA, 1982, DCP, 86m
Finally receiving a long-overdue theatrical run, Losing Ground, one of the first feature films written and directed by a black woman, is a groundbreaking romance exploring women’s sexuality, modern marriage, and the life of artists and scholars. But most of all, it is a great film, one that firmly belongs in the canon of American independent cinema in the 1980s. Sara (Seret Scott) is a philosophy professor and her husband Victor (Bill Gunn) is a painter. With their personal and professional lives at a crossroads, they leave the city for the country, experiencing a reawakening, both together and separately. Also featuring Duane Jones (Night of the Living Dead), the film is honest, funny, and wise. Losing Ground is a testament to the remarkable playwright, professor, and filmmaker Kathleen Collins, and a reminder of the immense talent that was lost when she passed away in 1988 at age 46. A Milestone Films release.
Friday, February 6, 1:00pm, 2:45pm, 4:30pm & 8:30pm (Q&A with Nina Collins, Ronald K. Gray, and Seret Scott at 8:30pm show)
Saturday, February 7, 3:15pm
Sunday, February 8, 1:00pm
*Monday, February 9, 1:00pm 
*Tuesday, February 10, 3:30pm
*Wednesday, February 11, 1:00pm
*Thursday, February 12, 2:00pm 
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
Madeline Anderson Program
Madeline Anderson’s classic documentary I Am Somebody depicts the strength of, and the hardships endured by, a striking group of African-American women in Charleston, South Carolina. The program also features Anderson’s first documentary, as well as work fromBlack Journal. “I was determined to do what I was going to do at any cost. I kept plugging away. Whatever I had to do, I did it,” she said of her career. I Am Somebody is screening courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of the New York Public Library for Performing Arts, preserved with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
 
I Am Somebody
Madeline Anderson, USA, 1970, 16mm, 30m
 
Integration Report #1
Madeline Anderson, USA, 1960, digital projection, 20m
 
A Tribute to Malcolm X
Madeline Anderson, USA, 1967, digital projection, 14m
*Wednesday, February 11, 8:30pm (Q&A with Madeline Anderson)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Namibia: Independence Now!
Pearl Bowser & Christine Choy, USA, 1985, 16mm, 55m
A revolutionary political moment is captured firsthand by two independent women filmmakers shooting inside refugee settlements in Zambia and Angola in 1985. Depicting the significant role of women in this struggle for independence, this film explores the lives of exiled women workers attempting to free their country from illegal exploitation.
*Tuesday, February 17, 5:00pm (Q&A with Pearl Bowser, Christine Choy, Al Santana, and JT Takagi)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
One Last Look
Charles Hobson, USA, 1969, digital projection, 60m
This rare film of Steve Carter’s play features many of the leading actors of the era before they went on to achieve international fame, was shown on WABC in New York, and has not been seen since. An emotionally charged drama of family, friends, and former lovers confronting the ghost of the family patriarch at his funeral.
Tuesday, February 17, 7:00pm (Q&A with Charles Hobson)
 
Personal Problems
Bill Gunn, USA, 1980, digital projection, approx. 110m
“What happens when a group of unbankable individuals tell their own stories? Actors who have final say over their speaking parts? A director found ‘too difficult’ for Hollywood? Two producers, who, having no experience, had the audacity to organize a production with the amount of money Hollywood spends on catering. Maybe less.” These questions by writer Ishmael Reed lead to the conception of this “meta soap opera,” the story of a Harlem couple, and their friends, made without “the middleman.”
Saturday, February 7, 8:00pm (Q&A with Ishmael Reed, Dr. Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, and Sam Waymon)
*Tuesday, February 10, 1:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
Let the Church Say Amen!
St. Clair Bourne, USA, 1973, 16mm, 67m
 
Voices of the Gods
Al Santana, USA, 1985, 16mm, 60m
A program on religion and ritual, highlighting two opposite ends of the spectrum in the role of religion in the black community. These modern classics represent two examples of the influential function and position that religious observation occupies as an essential part of African-American culture.
*Sunday, February 15, 7:00pm (Q&A with Al Santana)
*Tuesday, February 17, 2:00pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
She’s Gotta Have It
Spike Lee, USA, 1986, 35mm, 84m
The one that changed the entire landscape of independent film and announced a genuine director-as-superstar, and the defining film of a new generation of American directors. But most significantly, She’s Gotta Have It possesses a confidence, vision, and grandeur of style that is almost as absent from the current independent film scene as the New York City where it takes place, only existing on film, and in memory.
*Thursday, February 19, 9:30pm
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
St. Clair Bourne Program
Producing or directing more than 40 films in a 36-year career, St. Clair Bourne is inarguably the most prolific black documentarian of his time. Bourne authentically documented critical aspects of the black community—its culture, resistance, and activism—images of which would have been lost if not for his chronicling. If comparisons are necessary to understand the significance of Bourne’s work upon the broader landscape of independent film, think D.A. Pennebaker, the Maysles, and Jean Rouch. The films in this program find Bourne documenting black and Irish solidarity, representation in the Brooklyn Museum, and the options granted to high school students who want to attend college. St. Clair Bourne passed away at the age of 64; he would have been 73 this February. Something to Build On is screening courtesy of the Reserve Film and Video Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
 
The Black and the Green
St. Clair Bourne, USA, 1983, digital projection, 45m
 
Something to Build On
St. Clair Bourne, USA, 1971, 16mm, 29m
 
Statues Hardly Ever Smile
Stan Lathan, USA, 1971, digital projection, 21m
Sunday, February 8, 5:15pm (Q&A with Pearl Bowser, Crystal Emery and Sam Pollard)
 
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One
William Greaves, USA, 1968, 35mm, 75m
A docufiction, a narrative experiment, a film about making a film, a crew without a director, a time capsule of New York, a barometer of the culture: process, form, and personality collide in Greaves’s classic, about which no superlatives can be overused and whose influence cannot be overstated.
Saturday, February 7, 1:00pm (Q&A with Louise Greaves and special guests)
 
 
Video Program – Free Amphitheater Event!
A program of video-based works that used television technology to bring public attention to Black American identity, through intervention, documentation, and parody, as in Anthony Ramos’s About Media, in which the artist uses his Portapak camera to turn a news crew’s visit to his home into media critique. Co-programmed by Rebecca Cleman and presented by Rebecca Cleman and Chris Hill.
 
Queen Mother Moore Speech at Greenhaven Prison
People’s Communications Network, USA, 1973, digital projection, 17m
 
About Media
Anthony Ramos, USA, 1977, digital projection, 25m
*Sunday, February 15, 4:30pm (Post-screening discussion with Rebecca Cleman and Chris Hill)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
William Greaves Program
One of Greaves’s greatest, From These Roots is a crash-course in Harlem history, told entirely through the use of still images—rarely has so much information been condensed so gracefully. Paired with two early, rare Greaves docs, showing the incredible range of his work. A tribute to the Harlem-born teacher, mentor, and filmmaker, who passed away in August 2014.
 
From These Roots
William Greaves, USA, 1974, 16mm, 28m
 
Emergency Ward
William Greaves, USA, 1959, 16mm, 30m
 
Wealth of a Nation
William Greaves, USA, 1964, digital projection, 25m
*Saturday, February 14, 8:30pm (Q&A with Louise Greaves)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
Women’s Work Program
A program from exemplary women filmmakers who were an integral part of the independent film industry during the period covered by this survey. The content of these women’s films are culturally and community-specific, and they tell stories of universal human interest, with social commentary at their core, effectively bringing to light the remarkable contributions of female storytellers and their image-making prowess.
 
Teach Our Children
Christine Choy & Susan Robeson, USA, 1972, digital projection, 35m
 
Hairpiece: A Film for Nappy-Headed People
Ayoka Chenzira, USA, 1985, 16mm, 10m
 
Syvilla
Ayoka Chenzira, USA, 1979, 16mm, 15m
 
Suzanne Suzanne
Camille Billops & James Hatch, USA, 1982, 16mm, 30m
 
*Friday, February 13, 6:00pm (Q&A with Christine Choy, Susan Robeson, Camille Billops and Neema Barnette)
*Venue: Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street
 
 
FILM SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER
Founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, the Film Society of Lincoln Center works to recognize established and emerging filmmakers, support important new work, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility, and understanding of the moving image. The Film Society produces the renowned New York Film Festival, a curated selection of the year’s most significant new film work, and presents or collaborates on other annual New York City festivals including Dance on Camera, Film Comment Selects, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, NewFest, New York African Film Festival, New York Asian Film Festival, New York Jewish Film Festival, Open Roads: New Italian Cinema and Rendez-Vous with French Cinema. In addition to publishing the award-winning Film Comment magazine, the Film Society recognizes an artist's unique achievement in film with the prestigious Chaplin Award, whose 2015 recipient is Robert Redford. The Film Society’s state-of-the-art Walter Reade Theater and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, located at Lincoln Center, provide a home for year-round programs and the New York City film community.

The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, Jaeger-LeCoultre, American Airlines, The New York Times, HBO, Stella Artois, The Kobal Collection, Variety, Trump International Hotel and Tower, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts.
 
For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com, follow @filmlinc on Twitter, and download the FREE Film Society app, now available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android devices.


For Media specific inquiries, please contact:
 
Film Society of Lincoln Center:
John Wildman, (212) 875-5419
jwildman@filmlinc.com

David Ninh, (212) 875-5423
dninh@filmlinc.com

A review of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon by Nancy Mercado

A review of
The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon
by Nancy Mercado

Penguin Books, 2014

Willie Perdomo’s latest collection of poems, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon, published by Penguin includes four sections that interplay voices and characters, the language of music, street jargon, Spanish and English and Spanglish.

As a Nuyorican poet who emerged on the scene in the 1990’s, Perdomo is comfortable in meshing a variety of elements that may have no business being together but come out clean and intelligible in the end. His book is a fusion of street culture, life in the halls of learning, dual languages, dual homes or no home that resulted in a multifaceted life.

In the first section of his book: How I Came to My Name, the book’s main character, Shorty Bon Bon describes himself to the reader in the first person. In adjacent poems another character (perhaps a spirit) describes Shorty to Perdomo in past tense. The language used includes musical terms in both English and Spanish much of which is slang. In juxtaposing the communication between the characters, between the reader and the poet, in Perdomo’s particular use of language and in his creation of instantaneous mixtures of images, the complex and fast world of Shorty Bon Bon is made vivid.

A musician by trade, Shorty is also a slick street hustler. His hustle has found a home in his musicianship. Shorty learned his craft by listening to the masters not by attending school. He is so sure of his greatness, he is arrogant:

So cool

     That I chased God like he was on the run.

 […]

So cool

     That when Puente heard my speed, I made him bite his

     Tongue. I’m saying—I made the Mambo King bleed.        (12)

Rather than being distasteful however, Shorty’s arrogance is amusing. Besides, his greatness is validated by the spirit who addresses Perdomo.

In the second section; To Be with You, gone is the “spirit” character who communicates with Perdomo and introduced is Rose; a singer who is Shorty’s girl. Here, Rose’s tumultuous relationship to Shorty takes precedence. Their separate accounts of their struggling liaison and of one another, sustains the play of communication established in the first section. Rose addresses Shorty through a series of letters while Shorty addresses Perdomo directly. The language Perdomo uses is again a sofrito of English, Spanish, Spanglish, street talk and proper terminology e.g., the use of the word pubis.

The greatness of Rose as a singer is a metaphor for her amazing intellect, beauty and female power. Rose is a formidable challenge to Shorty. So much so that regardless of Shorty’s coolness she leaves him in the end.

The third section of the book; Fracture, Flow, sees Perdomo melding into Shorty. The communication here is between the poet and reader; the voice in the poem is the poet’s and that voice is Shorty Bon Bon’s. Set in Puerto Rico, in this group of poems, Shorty recounts life on the island vs life on the mainland, the treatment of Puerto Rico by the United States and the island’s political state. Through the use of metaphor, Perdomo refers to such historical events as Columbus’ treatment by the natives when he lands on the island, the dignity of Puerto Rican nationalists, the Ponce massacre, how the island and mainland are treated with the same brutality by those in power, the selling of the illusion of freedom.

The final segment of the book; The Birth of Shorty Bon Bon  45, realizes the death and rebirth of Shorty Bon Bon. Just like the poet himself, Shorty has died and is reborn anew. His transformation played out on a metaphoric 45 vinyl sides A and B.

Telling the story of one character throughout a book of poems is a risky proposition; a tool usually reserved for novelists and short story writers. But the persistence of a character among the sewn shards of language and colliding metaphors throughout Perdomo’s book, unifies the work and gives pause to the reader to ponder; is Shorty Bon Bon really Willie Perdomo?

The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon is a must read for anyone seeking a poetically visceral experience of what it is to be an amalgamation of things which, in the end is truly American.

________________________________________________

Nancy Mercado is a writer, editor and activist whose work appears in dozens of anthologies and literary journals. Most recently, she presented her work at Casa de las Americas in Cuba. Mercado is an Assistant Editor for eco-poetry.org and an Associate Professor at Boricua College in New York City. She authored the collection of poetry titled: It Concerns the Madness. For more information go to: http://www.pw.org/content/nancy_mercado 

Tribes announces..... Tribes 2.0- Live from Steve's couch

We are announcing Tribes 2.0: Live from Steve's Couch ---as a way to keep the old Tribes spirit alive  -- and keep a flow of new energy into the 6th St space. So Gander TV put in a camera and mic in 6th St for us.

The working dynamic here is that since Steve left 3rd St and the open door, every night a performance policy there, there has not been the kind of flow-through energy that sustained him and Tribes for a couple of decades. This is an attempt to find a way to find some new Tribes energy, to enter the digital world, and to have some fun with art.

You don't need to do anything different than what you always do here at Tribes, shoot the shit, heckle and read to the blind guy. The only thing that will be different is it'll be taped for people to watch live! (And there will be future events which we are in process of developing)

We will be setting up times and dates for people who want to participate. If you're interested please send us an email at gatheringofthetribes@gmail.com

Our friend & contributor Fred Sievert's God Revealed!

Buy his book here: http://www.amazon.com/God-Revealed-Revisit-Enrich-Future/dp/1614486999 About Fred:

Every life is a unique journey, and each of us travels through life accumulating experiences and memories that ultimately impact how we behave in every moment. Like you, how I will interact tomorrow with my spouse, children, siblings, coworkers, friends, and even adversaries is impacted and altered by my unique accumulation of life experiences. It’s both an incredible gift and an enormous responsibility to realize that among my unique personal experiences, at least some contained revelations and messages from God. I’ve shared my experiences on this website to persuade you that God does in fact speak to us through our life experiences. As you read about my journey, I hope it will inspire you to be on the alert for future messages from God and to ponder your own past for messages you may have initially missed. I came to know God through my own contemplations, self-study, prayer, and revelation. That process has provided me with the foundation for a very strong faith and meaningful testimony. I recognize the value of early childhood training and education in a particular faith, with an emphasis on the Holy Bible. But that was not how I found God. Unlike many lifelong Christians, those of us who found our own way may have missed rich religious training in childhood. We tend to know what we believe and why we believe it and can often provide cogent and effective arguments for our theological positions. But we do lack the foundation of years of biblical studies and a familiarity with God’s Word with all its beautiful and well-articulated values and lessons. The stories I share on this website do not dwell extensively on my own theological beliefs. They are not intended to be a prescription for finding your own place in the family of believers. If you currently practice a particular faith and believe in God, then what I have written is likely to reassure you that God is living and working in your life and delivers timely and critically important messages to you through your own experiences. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or of any other faith, you can and should be on the alert for such revelations. I hope my experiences will sensitize you to the need to remain vigilant and tuned in. However, even if you are an agnostic or an atheist, I have included for your consideration a number of experiences that initially established my faith and later fortified it. Reading about my journey probably won’t alter what you now believe (or don’t believe). But I hope that reading about it, coupled with your reflection on your own life’s journey, will cause you to contemplate the possibility that God was reaching out to you and sending you messages along the way. Throughout my journey, I have very clearly seen God working in my life, delivering messages, fortifying my faith, and improving my ability to impact other lives, which has been one of my long-standing passions. My unique journey began like that of millions of other Americans, in an unremarkable and very typical lower-middle-class household. I was born to a working-class family of second- and third-generation European immigrants who worked hard to support and sustain a young family in a rebounding economy. My father worked long hours as an insurance inspector. He was simply a working-class guy collecting data for insurance companies at a relatively low level of income. But he worked hard and supplemented his income by following his real passion in life: playing the trumpet. It was his passion for his music—not his work in the insurance industry—that defined him and his life. His dedication to his passion affected my childhood and my adult life as I identified and pursued my own passions. Dad had a strong faith in God but rarely expressed it and did not regularly take the family to church. It was difficult for him to express the things he felt strongly about and he rarely revealed emotions to his family. But as I watched him handle life’s challenges, I came to understand the depth of his faith. Mom didn’t often express her own faith either. But she was less guarded with her emotions and did find occasions to express faith in God or rely on His direction and guidance. She too worked several low-level jobs during her life to help support our family, and she generally enjoyed being engaged in something productive. She was a lifetime learner and was eager to advance her knowledge, even as she became fragile and forgetful in her early eighties. I think the lack of formal religious training had both a negative and a positive impact on the future development of my own faith. On the negative side, I did not affiliate at a young age with any particular body of believers. I did not learn Bible stories with their inherent wisdom and moralistic values. And I did not have the benefit of worshipping and interacting regularly with other believers. But there were positive aspects to this background. I was not dogmatically indoctrinated into a narrowly defined religious belief system. I was inspired to pursue my beliefs independently and with an open mind while I contemplated and considered many difficult theological questions and objectively considered alternative answers. And most importantly, God knew I needed divine revelation to fortify my faith. As you’ll see, God was tangibly present in a number of my experiences throughout my life. In fact, that is the essence of my message. God revealed Himself and was there with a message when I needed it most, both to establish my faith and to strengthen it. And once my faith was firmly established, His messages guided the ways in which I would subsequently live my life and impact the lives of others. It was through numerous kitchen-table chats with Mom (even as an adult) that I gained self-worth and self-confidence. Ironically, although God or religion didn’t come up often in those discussions, a lot of moral principles did, and they became embedded in my psyche. Mom always encouraged me to work hard and to do so with integrity. She always emphasized doing what was right. Those chats may not have been formal Bible studies, but she often quoted the Ten Commandments and the “Golden Rule” as principles by which I should live my life. I believed her. I listened and I absorbed. Those extremely simple instructions from my parents and their demonstration of how to live accordingly have stayed with me for a lifetime. I have been blessed because my childhood memories are very positive. Those early childhood experiences with my parents piqued my curiosity about God and religion; they caused me throughout my childhood to follow up with Bible study and to question my friends and acquaintances who attended church more regularly than I. But I always ended up with more questions than answers, and the multitude of faiths practiced in just my own small neighborhood often resulted in different answers from different sources. It was all very confusing and complicated to a young pre-adolescent. I remember thinking that if I chose to study a single faith or denomination, I’d only get one perspective and miss all the others. How would I know which was right? On the other hand, if I pursued answers from every possible source, I would continue to be confused and would wonder if any of it made sense. And after all, I wasn’t trying to address deep theological questions. I was just a young kid who wanted to know if God was real, if God existed now or in the past, and if God could hear and would answer my prayers. Did God know who I was? Was He watching over my every move and protecting me? Were there really angels? I also wondered a lot about Jesus and what it meant to be the Son of God. How could God be a single person and yet also be in three forms? When people said God spoke to them, were they lying or delusional? Did God really speak audibly? Why couldn’t I hear God? And why did so many bad things happen in the world—often to such good people? My list of questions seemed endless. Simple questions like these eventually proved to be deeply theological after all. I didn’t have good answers then and I don’t have particularly good answers to all of them now, even after four years of study in divinity school. But during my lifetime, as you’ll see in the stories on this website, God’s existence was revealed to me and God did speak to me. Sometimes it was a seemingly coincidental event, but I knew it went far beyond coincidence and that God was simply saying, “I’m real and I’m here for you.” In other cases, God was revealing to me my own inappropriate behaviors and was admonishing me to recognize my wrongdoing and to change. God’s existence was revealed to me most dramatically through a mystical experience I had as a teenager while contemplating many of the tough questions about which I had wondered. That experience caused me to believe in an omnipotent, omnipresent divine power, and I have not stopped believing ever since. My faith has been strengthened not only through miraculous events and healings, but also through the undeniable messages God has delivered to me. My high school sweetheart and now wife, Sue Smolar, has remained my loving and faithful companion throughout this journey. We have shared the same questions and musings, and both of us thirst to understand the meaning of life and the role of God and religion in our everyday existence. Sue and I adopted three lovely daughters, Heidi, Dena, and Denise—two Korean orphans and one special needs child—when they were infants. Later, we miraculously gave birth to two boys, Zac and Corey. I continue to write extensively about my five children and our lives together, particularly about experiences in which God took an active role and delivered important messages, miracles, and revelations. In my early adult years I pursued my career aggressively—first as a teacher, then as a young actuary working in the insurance industry, and finally as the president of a Fortune 100 insurance company (The New York Life Insurance Company). I consistently followed my mother’s kitchen-table advice throughout my career and worked very hard, always striving to demonstrate integrity while being ever mindful of the “Golden Rule” and the Ten Commandments. My mother’s simple advice and encouragement have been with me always. We have attended churches of various denominations. I never felt it necessary to attempt to identify the perfect theological match for my own beliefs because I never felt the nuances of differing denominations were really that important. What seemed most important to me was my conviction that God truly exists as the creator of the universe and that He is a living presence in the world today, just as He always has been and always will be. The initial mystical experience I had as a teenager convinced me that God is real. That knowledge and faith has been reinforced many times in the ensuing years as the living God has spoken to me. Not long after that initial experience I also came to recognize and accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. My eagerness to speak to God, to pray for God’s guidance, and to watch and listen for His response has grown throughout my lifetime. I have never heard God speak audibly and I have never seen Him in a vision, but I know God has been (and is) there, and I know that many of my experiences were not mere coincidence. God has indeed been speaking to me and revealing things I needed to know, to hear, and often to act upon. I know I have the free will to take my life in any direction I choose—good or bad—but I choose to follow God and His teachings as depicted in the Holy Bible. My spiritual life has been a unique journey, but probably not unlike those of many who will visit this website. The way I have lived my life along the way has been far from perfect. I have faced and continue to face all the same influences and temptations that all humans face. None of us is free from sin, but all of us can rejoice in God’s grace and God’s forgiveness. Like so many of my business colleagues, I aggressively pursued a highly successful business career, often to the detriment of my family and the practicing of my faith. Because of my regrets over that, I retired at age fifty-nine from a career and position I loved in order to attend divinity school. In retirement (which is certainly a misnomer for me) I have better aligned my priorities and more directly pursued my passions. In addition to completing a master’s degree at Yale Divinity School, I have been writing, mentoring young executives, teaching, and remaining involved on boards of trustees of several institutions for whose missions I am passionate. I am convinced that throughout my life—throughout childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle age, and retirement—God has been there beside me, watching my successes and enduring my failures. He has just as certainly been involved where appropriate to strengthen my faith, to give guidance and direction, to answer prayers, to perform miracles, and to positively impact my behaviors. The stories posted on this website tell the story of my journey through tangible life experiences that started when I was very young and will continue as long as I live. My earnest hope and prayer is that you’ll reflect thoughtfully and constructively on the experiences of your own life as you read about mine—and that you’ll consider the reality that God has been speaking to you in a way unique to your needs. Every life, including yours, is a unique journey, one that is important to God and one in which He will provide guidance, blessings, and unconditional love.

- See more at: http://www.godrevealed.com/site/about-my-journey/#sthash.TNlyZBX0.dp

Kirkus calls GOD REVEALED "A memoir with practical and often powerful inspirational advice."The full review is

Tribes, exuberant East Village arts space, faces eviction

BY SARAH FERGUSON  |  Last week, the Howl! Festival announced that it had selected blind poet and playwright Steve Cannon to be 2014’s poet laureate of the Lower East Side. But the news of this latest feather in Cannon’s cap is bittersweet, because he and his iconic E. Third St. gallery/performance salon, A Gathering of the Tribes, are now on the verge of losing their home.

According to the terms of a legal settlement with his landlord, Lorraine Zhang, both Cannon and Tribes — which has operated out of Cannon’s second-floor apartment since 1991 — have to get out by April 15.

While the 78-year-old Cannon has been battling to stave off eviction for the past three years, news of the finality of this legal agreement came as a shock to many of his supporters.

“It’s the deathknell of a generation. It’s the end of the free spirit of the anarcho-artist of the Lower East Side,” charged Bowery Poetry Club founder Bob Holman, who is on the board of Howl! “The era of the poets crashing on couches has been taken over by Airbnb. Tribes is the last holdout for the gallery/performance crash pad,” Holman opined.

But though he may have lost his legal fight with Zhang, Cannon says he’s not ready to quit holding out just yet. In a letter last month to supporters, Cannon once again pitched the idea of finding a “benevolent donor” to buy back the four-story row house at 285 E. Third St. and help convert it into an artists’ residence.

As the letter notes, Zhang, who purchased the property from Cannon for $950,000, is looking for a buyer — the property is currently listed online at $3.35 million.

“It would be a tragedy to lose our space in spite of such ongoing recognition of the services we provide as an arts incubator on the Lower East Side,” reads the Feb. 19 appeal. “We are one of last places left that nurtures young aspiring artists in all disciplines. Please help, or help pass the word. SAVE TRIBES!”

Among Tribes fans, there’s now talk of a Kickstarter campaign to muster funds, or even a last-ditch occupation to “fill the place with bodies” and so pre-empt the marshals from carrying off the blind professor (along with his myriad books and poetry zines).

“People should contact Steve, go by his house, the door is always open,” urges Holman.

It’s all pretty 11th hour, which is why Cannon concedes he’s simultaneously  looking for another apartment in the neighborhood where he might continue some scaled-down version of Tribes.

“I could keep the Web site and publish a few poetry books a year,”  he said. “That’s the backup plan. But, really, my hope is to find a way to stay here,” Cannon added, sunk into his living room couch where he has held court for decades.

Zhang declined to comment and referred all questions to her attorney, Steven Gee.

“We intend to enforce the litigation,” Gee told The Villager. “I hope he can relocate his organization. He should have been looking for a long period of time. There’s been plenty of notice.”

Cannon first purchased the crumbling row house back in 1970 for $35,000, using the royalties from his first novel, “Groove Bang and Jive Around.” In 1989, after his failing eyesight forced him to quit teaching at Medgar Evers College, Cannon began informally schooling young poets and writers on the stoop of his building, located just a block away from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, and catty-corner to the old Living Theater.

That stoop workshop became the genesis for Tribes, which morphed into a literary magazine, art gallery, poetry salon, periodic performance venue and perpetual hangout.

Over the years, Tribes has received funding from the New York State Council of the Arts, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Andy Warhol Foundation and an abundance of private donors. In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg even issued a proclamation honoring Tribes for its role in hosting the East Village’s annual Charlie Parker Festival.

Nevertheless, Cannon fell into debt trying to sustain Tribes and maintain the dilapidated building. (A fire in 1990 had gutted the top floors, and Cannon’s former partner ran off with the insurance money, he claims.) Frustrated with trying to play landlord as a blind man, Cannon sold the building to Zhang in 2004, with an agreement that he be able to continue living there, and holding “non-for-profit” [sic] arts activities in his apartment and the back garden for another 10 years.

Cannon concedes it was a bad move to set a time limit on his and Tribes’ occupancy.

“I was just looking for a good person to run the building,” he explained. “I thought I would let her take over the building and I would just stay here, that’s all.”

The initial agreement allowed him to remain for five years at a rent of $1,000 per month, with the option to renew for another five years at $2,200 per month. So, even if he didn’t get into a court battle with Zhang, legally he only had the right to remain in his apartment until August 31, 2014.

Cannon says he realized he was in trouble in early 2011, when he found out that Zhang had listed the building for sale. Later that year, Zhang moved to evict Cannon, alleging that Cannon had never given proper notice of his intent to renew the second five-year term of his possession agreement, and that Tribes’ late-night gatherings were disturbing other tenants and neighbors.

Zhang also charged that Cannon’s use of his apartment for Tribes was illegal, citing a 2006 violation issued by the Department of Building, which claimed Cannon had converted his apartment into an “office and art gallery.” In fact, according to the city’s zoning laws, it’s legal to have a noncommercial arts space in one’s home under the so-called “home occupation” provision, as long that use does not exceed more than 500 square feet. (Whether the foot traffic or noise generated by Tribes’ at-times boisterous happenings would be permitted under that statute was never determined in court.)

Faced with a trial and the possibility of having to pay Zhang’s legal costs if he lost, Cannon’s attorney recommended he settle the case. Last year, Cannon agreed he and Tribes would leave by May 30, 2014. But the date got whittled back to April 15 after Zhang moved to take Cannon to court again for allegedly exceeding the number of public events allowed under the stipulation.

Zhang and her attorney declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

“The pleadings speak for themselves,” Gee told the Villager.

Indeed, Gee seemed exasperated by the continued uproar over Cannon’s loss of the space.

“He wasn’t supposed to occupy forever,” Gee pointed out. “There was an agreement all along that he would have to move out. Now we’re at the end of the agreement, it’s not fair for Mr. Cannon to say it’s unfair.

“If this case had gone to trial, he would have faced a shorter time. I don’t understand why now it’s such a big affair,” Gee added.

For his part, Cannon says he regrets not taking the case to trial to present his side of the story. He claims that Zhang’s real motive for getting him out is financial. He says Zhang got into hot water after she subdivided the building’s other three floors and began renting out the rooms to students and tourists. In 2009, she was cited by the Department of Buildings for operating a “transient hostel.”

“She put 33 beds in two small apartments,” charged poet Chavissa Woods, who was living in Cannon’s back room at the time. “There were dozens of people moving in and out at all hours, and then the place got infested with bed bugs. Steve was covered in bites, and the neighbors were complaining,” Wood claimed.

Gee declined to comment on any of these allegations.

The Buildings Department slapped Zhang with fines and issued a vacate order for the subdivided floors, leaving Cannon the only rent payer while Zhang worked to restore the other apartments to single-family residences.

City property records show Zhang has accrued substantial debt on the property.

Still, Cannon probably didn’t help his case by allowing young artists to continue to stage exuberant performances on both weeknights and weekends, some of which carried on into the wee hours. One neighbor forwarded a video she shot in 2011 from her back window showing a stripper flogging herself in the backyard while audience members seated on risers in the backyard hooted and hollered. Earlier this month, Cannon confessed he’d just let a group host a “Chinese punk art show” in his living room.

“It was funny as all hell,” he quipped.

In spite of such unorthodoxies, Cannon’s downstairs neighbor told The Villager he didnʼt mind  having Cannon and Tribes there.

“I can’t begrudge a blind guy for doing something interesting with his life,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. Similarly, the neighbor who sent the newspaper the video said the noise problems had subsided two years ago, and even offered to write a letter in support of Tribes.

According to supporters, the real problem is that Tribes’ freewheeling existence clashes with the now-gentrified norms of the far East Village.

“Maybe we don’t really have a great legal defense, but what we have is an artistic, and very human defense,” Woods insisted. “Steve is preserving what’s been happening down here since the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, and now people are complaining about that. When people say we’re crazy, well, O.K., but that’s what made this neighborhood so valuable in the first place.”

http://thevillager.com/2014/03/20/tribes-exuberant-east-village-arts-space-faces-eviction/