February 6 – 19

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, ushering in a new type of horror film—which Ishmael Reed called “what might be the country’s most intellectual and sophisticated horror films.”

This survey is comprised of key films produced between 1968 and 1986, when Spike Lee’s first feature, the independently produced She’s Gotta Have It, was released theatrically—and followed by a new era of studio filmmaking by black directors. Representing highlights of New York–based independents, activists all—producing these films in a time when minority film production was not supported and frequently suppressed—this program is full of major works by some of the great filmmakers of this (or any) era in American film history.

Programmed by Jake Perlin and Michelle Materre, co-presented by Creatively Speaking. In association with the Mayor's Office of Media & Entertainment. Media sponsor: Amsterdam News.

For sale at the Film Society 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.

See more for less with a 3+ Film Package or a $99 All Access Pass!