Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Through a Black Prism: Films and the Future

Posted By on Wed, Apr 22, 1998 at 12:00 AM

Tired of blaxploitation in its many guises? Nodding out from Hollywood's Great White Dope? Then treat your mind to a torrent of stimulation at a one-of-a-kind film festival this Thursday through Sunday, at the Museum of African American History, the Cinema Café and Wayne State University.

"Through a Black Prism: Films and the Future" features presentations by acclaimed directors Julie Dash and St. Clair Bourne; screenings of more than a dozen great films; speakers on topics including "The Experience of Black Women on Screen" (by Gloria Gibson, Indiana University), "Musical Scores and Film Making" (by Detroit pianist-composer Kenn Cox) and "Film Making in Africa" (by Keyan Tomaselli from the University of Natal), plus workshops and discussion groups.

Festival organizer Melba Boyd, chair of the Africana Studies Department at WSU, says, "The idea was to better acquaint the Detroit community with the rich and extensive black heritage in both feature and documentary film, and to encourage aspiring filmmakers and film scholars in their efforts to make a contribution to the progression of black film into the future."

Everything kicks off at 7 p.m. Thursday at MAAH with the Detroit premiere of John Henrik Clarke: A Great and Mighty Walk, produced and narrated by Wesley Snipes, with music by Max Roach and Yusef Lateef. Writer-director St. Clair Bourne will answer questions following the screening. On Saturday at 7 p.m., writer-director Julie Dash gives the keynote address at MAAH.

Among the excellent films to be shown all three days, at WSU's Helen DeRoy Lecture Hall and the Cinema Café, are: Sankofa (dir. Haile Gerima, 1995), The Emperor Jones (1933, starring Paul Robeson), To Sleep With Anger (dir. Charles Burnett, 1990), Spike Lee's Four Little Girls (1997) and Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust (1991), as well as documentaries on Belle Isle, Detroit poet Dudley Randall and his Broadside Press.

Dash will conduct an independent filmmaking workshop at the Cinema Café, 4605 Cass, noon-6 Sunday, to cap things off. All screenings are free and open to the public. Registration for all other festival events is $50 general and $25 for students. For info, call Africana Studies-WSU at 313-577-2321, today through Friday.

George Tysh is Metro Times arts editor. E-mail him at


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