1968 with Gordon Parks: 4th Annual Movies Under the Stars


Note location:  Muffler Shop (359 E Garfield Blvd)

Black Cinema House and Chicago Film Archives present the fourth annual series of outdoor summer screenings, “Movies Under the Stars,” at the Muffler Shop. Grab a lawn chair and join us at the corner of 55th and King for a night of illuminating films that begin as the sun goes down.

This summer, we’re revisiting tumultuous and transformative 1968 through the lens of gifted visual artists of the era Gordon Parks, William Greaves and Thomas Reichman.  Tonight, Parks’ films from that year take viewers into the world of New York neighborhoods nearly 50 years ago.

Legendary African American photographer Gordon Parks was a humanitarian who was deeply committed to social justice. From the early 1940s up until his death in 2006, his body of work documents the highs and lows of American culture with a specific focus on race relations, poverty, Civil Rights, and urban life. Parks was also a celebrated composer, author, and filmmaker – best known for his films The Learning Tree (1969) and Shaft (1971). This program presents two very early documentaries made by Parks for public television broadcast. Like his renowned photographic essays for Life Magazine, these films focus on individuals and their environments within the larger context of social and political change.

Diary of a Harlem Family (1968, 20 min, 16mm)
A plea for poverty relief and equal opportunity, this photomontage film documents the life of the Fontinelli family who live in a Harlem tenement in New York City.

World of Piri Thomas (1968, 60 min, 16mm)
Gordon Parks, along with writer and poet Piri Thomas, lead us on a journey through New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Parks guides our eyes through El Barrio, while Thomas reads from his best-selling memoir, “Down These Mean Streets.” These sights and sounds record the grim and crumbling life of the neighborhood and its inhabitants, but also provide a glimmer of hope for “survival and triumph over the ghetto.”