Chicago Film Archives Summer Screenings

Chicago Film Archives and the Black Cinema House join forces again to bring family friendly film screenings to Chicago’s Grand Crossing neighborhood. The final night of the series will focus on the oral tradition of “spinning the yarn” – the passing on of life stories from one person to the next. Our evening will be hosted by nationally renowned storyteller Oba William King, who will weave his engaging tales, and lead discussion with our audience as we feature the rarely seen documentary Goin’ On, a film about the prolific Black folklorist J. Mason Brewer.
Known as “the poetic storyteller,” Oba William King ignites audiences with his unique combination of Black oral traditions, funky drum rhythms, professional theatrical training and a distinct poetic style. Oba is an entertaining educator sharing the traditional art form with his own contemporary style.

Goin’ On (1981, 40 min.) J. Mason Brewer was the most important Black folklorist in United States history. Born in Texas in 1896, he worked throughout the U.S. for over 60 years as a collector, interpreter and teller of Black folklore. When he died at the age of 78, he had authored five collections of folklore and one of Black history. He published more folktales than any other Black folklorist, including Zora Neale Hurston. As a college professor for over 50 years, he was an inspiration, an example to students and listeners. He always encouraged people to be proud of their tradition, but not to live in the past. Many of the tales are told in Brewer’s own voice and help to create a film that is both visually interesting and aurally entertaining.

Preceded by: Hot Hippo (1989, 5 min, digital video)
Hot Hippo is a story set in Africa about the origins of why the hippo sits in the water, wagging his tail and occasionally stretching his mouth wide open.

Cow-Tail Switch (1970, 8 min, digital video) A folktale from the Liberian rainforest that recounts the death and return to life of Ogalussa, the hunter.