Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Film at Lincoln Center announce the free outdoor film series lineup, part of Summer for the City, kicking off June 14.
Summer for the City is Lincoln Center’s three-month-long summer festival featuring thousands of artists from New York City and beyond, performing across multiple outdoor and indoor stages. From June to August, Summer for the City will animate every corner of the Center’s 16-acre campus with hundreds of free and Choose-What-You-Pay concerts, film screenings, dance nights, theater, comedy, silent discos, civic events, family-friendly days, and more, a reflection of the multifaceted communities of New York. For more information, visit SummerfortheCity.org.
The Summer for the City outdoor film series, which will be held in Damrosch Park this year, promises to delight and stimulate moviegoers with a three-film showcase of Terence Blanchard’s illustrious and prolific career as a composer of film scores, in connection with “See Me As I Am,” LCPA’s year-long, campus-wide celebration of the pioneering musician. Films scored by Blanchard include a Director’s Cut of Eve’s Bayou; Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Love & Basketball; and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods
Summer for the City also includes “Can’t Stop the Street: Hip Hop on Screen,” a five-film sidebar as part of a campus-wide celebration honoring hip hop’s 50th anniversary, exploring and paying tribute to the myriad ways in which hip hop’s history, cultural innovations, and guiding creative voices have influenced and intersected with American cinema over the last half-century. Scheduled films to screen are Tony Silver’s Style Wars; Doug Pray’s Scratch; Ernest R. Dickerson’s Juice; the director’s cut of F. Gary Gray’s Friday; and Charlie Ahearn’s Wild Style.
Organized by Madeline Whittle.
Charlie Ahearn and Kim Harris; Henry Chalfant; Doug Pray, Brad Blondheim, and Ernest Meza; Netflix
Entry to Summer for the City outdoor screenings at Damrosch Park will be available for FREE via General Admission—first-come, first-served. Filmgoers can line up off of W. 62nd Street, along the east side of Damrosch Park. Seating will open to the public 30 minutes before showtime. In addition to General Admission, we’re offering a FREE Fast Track option. Reservations will open every Monday at noon for that week’s events and close at 3:00 pm the day of the show, or when Fast Track tickets are all booked—whichever comes first. All Summer for the City outdoor screenings will use headsets.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
All Summer for the City films will take place outdoors at Damrosch Park.
Terence Blanchard Celebration, “See Me As I Am”
Kasi Lemmons, 1997, USA, 115m
Breaking onto the scene with one of the most acclaimed feature filmmaking debuts of the 1990s, director Kasi Lemmons drew on a rich Southern Gothic tradition to craft a profoundly mysterious, densely atmospheric family drama set deep in the Louisiana bayou of the early 1960s. The story unfolds across a series of intersecting flashbacks from the perspective of 10-year-old Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), the daughter of a respected and charismatic small-town doctor (Samuel L. Jackson) whose voracious patriarchal appetites loom darkly over the Batiste family home.
In the first of his several collaborations with Lemmons, composer Terence Blanchard contributed a silken, sumptuously hypnotic score that amplifies and complicates the film’s central meditation on the mutability of knowledge, the obscure workings of memory, and the inexorable currents of time.
Wednesday, June 14 at 9:00pm
Love & Basketball
Gina Prince-Bythewood, 2000, USA, 124m
Unfolding across four “quarters” in the lives of its protagonists, writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s first feature charts the ebbs and flows in the relationship of Monica (Saana Lathan) and Quincy (Omar Epps), spanning their early years in Los Angeles as childhood friends—and fierce rivals—connecting over a shared love of basketball, through their respective tenures as high school, college, and professional ball players. During this period—situated in the decade prior to the creation of the WNBA—their youthful friendship grows into a passionate but tumultuous romance, as the on-again-off-again lovers find their deep bond tested by the competing pressures of personal ambition, family tensions, and an all-consuming commitment to the game.
Produced by Spike Lee, Prince-Bythewood’s semi-autobiographical film paints a nuanced, involving picture of the emotional processes of self-discovery that accompany the onset of young adulthood, bolstered by Terence Blanchard’s tenderly reflective musical score and memorable performances from Alfre Woodard and Dennis Haysbert.
Friday, June 16 at 9:00pm
Da 5 Bloods
Spike Lee, 2020, USA, 154m
English, Finnish, French, and Vietnamese with English subtitles
Since making his film-scoring debut with 1991’s Jungle Fever, Blanchard has reteamed with Spike Lee on nearly all of the legendary director’s subsequent projects up to and including his latest narrative feature, 2020’s Da 5 Bloods. Blanchard’s muscular score, at once brooding and sweeping, is perfectly matched to the grand scale of Lee’s rigorous, richly ambivalent Vietnam war epic. Anchored by towering, uncompromising performances from Delroy Lindo and Chadwick Boseman, the narrative follows a squad of four aged veterans returning to the Vietnamese jungle to recover the remains of their fallen leader—and a cache of gold from a downed CIA aircraft that they had stashed during a wartime expedition decades earlier.
A searing and unsparing work of historical reckoning, Lee’s film is one of the few Hollywood productions ever to explore the lived experiences and complicated cultural legacies of Black Americans who were conscripted to serve overseas in a deadly imperial conflict as the fight for racial equality continued to rage back home.
Wednesday, June 21 at 9:00pm
“Can’t Stop the Street: Hip Hop on Screen”
Tony Silver, 1983, USA, 69m
In 1983, just a decade after DJ Kool Herc’s historic “Back-to-School Jam” in a South Bronx apartment building, PBS aired Tony Silver’s groundbreaking document of the burgeoning hip hop movement, a lively and richly observant account of the thriving culture of graffiti writers who were making their mark on the early-’80s New York cityscape.
Co-produced by the photographer Henry Chalfant, Style Wars took a slyly even-handed approach to the then hotly politicized phenomenon of graffiti, which was flourishing in tandem with its counterpart art forms—DJing, rapping, and breakdancing. Silver and Chalfant let the art form’s detractors (including Mayor Ed Koch and MTA higher-ups) voice their objections, but the filmmakers show a greater interest in the young artists themselves, who were regularly risking injury or incarceration in the name of self-expression: the film’s teenage subjects candidly articulate their motivations while showcasing the vibrant, vital energy of their craft—all backed by an infectious soundtrack that features such early hip hop innovators as Grandmaster Flash, the Sugarhill Gang, and the Fearless Four.
Thursday, June 22 at 9:00pm (Introduced by Henry Chalfant)
Doug Pray, 2001, USA, 92m
“The DJ was the source of the energy, because it was his responsibility to find the music,” says Grand Mixer DXT, one of the many talking heads that populate Doug Pray’s exuberant documentary love letter to the rhythmic manipulation of vinyl records, a technique whose propulsive rise to popularity in 1973 laid the groundwork for all that would follow in the development of rap.
Across several chapters that unfold in brisk succession, Pray cannily weaves together interviews with Grand Wizard Theodore, Mix Master Mike, DJ Qbert, and other accomplished practitioners, showcasing their finely honed technical prowess with thrilling intimacy while methodically charting a history of the art and craft of DJing, explicating the finer points of turntablism, battle culture, digging, scratching, and the production of original beats. The result is an expertly constructed, endlessly engaging survey of a storied but under-examined art form: Pray centers and celebrates the ingenuity and drive of turntable innovators, and brilliantly captures the rough-and-tumble spirit of community and collaboration that fuels their creativity.
Friday, June 23 at 9:00pm
Ernest R. Dickerson, 1992, USA, 95m
Having already made a name for himself as former classmate Spike Lee’s go-to cinematographer over the preceding decade, in 1992 Ernest R. Dickerson embarked on his own directorial career with Juice, a propulsive, noir-tinged coming-of-age drama starring Omar Epps as Q, a Harlem teen and aspiring DJ whose talents at the turntable seem to promise an authentic means of thriving within, and perhaps transcending, the material confines of his working-class upbringing. Meanwhile, a 20-year-old Tupac Shakur, fresh off the success of his debut album—with which he had swiftly established his own status as a bona fide star, and a leading figure in the ascendant genre of politically conscious West Coast rap—delivers a tour de force performance as Bishop, the mercurial wild card of Q’s tight-knit crew of friends, who harbors a hot temper and a budding violent streak that threatens to derail Q’s musical ambitions and place the futures of all four young men in jeopardy.
With an assured hand and cool virtuosity, Dickerson reconsiders the themes and real-world concerns that were animating hip hop culture at the time, refracting them through a distinctly cinematic lens.
Thursday, June 29 at 9:00pm
F. Gary Gray, 1995, USA, 97m
Co-writers and producers Ice Cube and DJ Pooh originally envisioned Friday as a boisterous corrective to the despairing hood dramas that proliferated in the pop-cultural landscape of the early ’90s, most of which emphasized violent conflict and ingrained hopelessness as endemic conditions of the inner-city milieu. First-time feature filmmaker F. Gary Gray, who had recently come up in the industry as an acclaimed director of music videos, handily translated his talents to the longer narrative format in order to chronicle a sprawling day in the life of newly unemployed Craig (Ice Cube) and his stoner friend Smokey (Chris Tucker) as the two South Central residents scramble to settle a $200 debt with their drug dealer.
A riotously funny high-water mark in the tradition of successful hip hop artists pivoting to assume the role of Hollywood auteur, Friday quickly achieved the status of genuine cult hit, equally celebrated for its affectionate, lived-in evocation of life in the hood and for its chart-topping, double-platinum soundtrack.
Friday, June 30 at 9:00pm
Charlie Ahearn, 1983, USA, 82m
Celebrated as a foundational depiction of early hip hop culture—and one of the first to engage cinematically with the lives and perspectives of the young people whose creativity fueled its development—Wild Style was conceived as a collaboration between young No Wave filmmaker Charlie Ahearn and the renowned street artist Fab 5 Freddy. The loose narrative follows Raymond (played by fellow practitioner Lee Quiñones), a precocious teenage graffiti writer in the Bronx known by the pseudonym “Zoro,” and his friend Phade (Fab 5 Freddy), a club promoter, as they navigate a scene fraught with artistic rivalries and a creative community that’s ambivalent about the interest it’s attracting from the upper-crust art world.
Filling out the cast with the Rock Steady Crew, Grandmaster Flash, and other pioneering talents of early hip hop culture playing versions of themselves, Ahearn’s film offers an extraordinary semi-documentary portrait of a vibrant cultural movement in its first flowering. A New Directors/New Films 1983 selection.
Wednesday, July 12 at 9:00pm (Introduced by Charlie Ahearn)