Black Cinema House: A Year in Review

IMG_7978Avery LaFlamme, BCH Program Assistant

As the year comes to a close, I hope everyone can look back and remember some of the best moments of the past months and get ready to take on a new year of new uncertainties, and new opportunities.

Black Cinema House was blessed this year to get to work with some amazing artists, educators and activists on some really amazing screenings and programs. Like back in January, when so many of you showed up for a screening of Stanley Nelson’s documentary The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015) that people had to stand in the back. History lives.

Or back in April, when Arthur Agee himself joined us for a screening of Hoop Dreams (1994) to talk about what those 5 years meant to him, and what to make of all the years since. Agee continues to work with youth across the country — a new generation of dreamers.

And we can’t forget our student showcase in June that put a spotlight on original films created by the students of the BCH Self + Otherness Film Workshop led by Marco Ferrari. The films, inspired by the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, were finally projected onto a former ComEd building within that very environment. It was a taste of the sort of life cycle that Black Cinema House wants to support – film by the community, for the community.

Lastly, we can’t forget the finale of the Diana Ross series at BING Art Books, when we projected The Wiz onto the outside of the Garfield Muffler Shop, and people brought their lawn chairs and their families to laugh at Ted Ross’ blubbering and dance to Quincy Jones’ vibrant soundtrack. It was clear then that the film was only part of the point, and that part of the value of the black film lives off the screen, amongst an audience inspired by the images they see.

Of course there are far more moments to remember than these, just as there are far more films to watch and conversations to have than there are days in the year. But as winter begins and the new year waits, Black Cinema House has plenty of programming left in store for all of us who love to steep in the politics and imagination of black cinema. To kick off the changes of a new year a bit early, we have officially started daily screenings at the Stony Island Arts Bank, bringing black film to the already rich historical archives and fresh programming the Bank has to offer. Come by whenever the Bank is open and you’re likely to find something on the screen.

And as we welcome our new Cinema Education Coordinator Darren Wallace, we are also excited to launch the BCH Education Initiative. Under Darren’s leadership, this initiative will expand on the film workshops offered in seasons past with new exciting opportunities for students to learn and to create. So, for all those creatives out there who are inspired by what they’ve seen on screen and in the world around them, we hope that BCH will be an accessible and valuable resource. Stay tuned.

Which brings us to another exciting addition to the BCH team. Artist and filmmaker Cam Be is the new BCH artist-in-residence, and in his new role will support BCH programming by creating new partnerships with local artists and by being a resource to learning filmmakers looking for advice and guidance on their own creative journeys. You can check out a sampling of his work on his website.

Here’s to an exciting new chapter for Black Cinema House. As we turn our eyes from a past full of Vanguards, Hoop Dreams, and yellow bricks towards an exciting and uncertain future, we hope you’ll keep us company as we ease on down the road.