Siren of the Tropics (with live musical accompaniment)


Presented with live musical accompaniment by musicians Aymeric Avice (trumpet) & Benjamin Sanz (drums).
Available only as a fragment for decades, Siren of the Tropics is Josephine Baker’s feature film debut. Made in 1927, around the time Josephine was making a Paris splash as a Folies Bergère star, Siren establishes the rags to riches, fairy tale template from which her subsequent films would be cut.

Josephine plays Papitou, a free-spirited, animal-loving young woman who falls in love with Andre, a sophisticated young man who has been sent to the Parisian Antilles as a prospector. She is unaware that he is betrothed to another, or that his work assignment is actually a perilous ruse concocted by his scheming boss. As the truth becomes known, Papitou finds herself pursuing Andre back to Paris, where fate intervenes. Will Papitou’s new job as a music hall performer (a natural role for Baker) bring the romantic resolution she so desperately desires?

Though silent, Siren of the Tropics abounds with musical energy, aided in no small part by Josephine Baker’s innate screen magnetism. The film contains perhaps her greatest dance work on celluloid, the frenetic “Charleston.” Among the crew was a very young Luis Buñuel!

The Experimental Sound Series, which presents early silent films with live musical accompaniment. The brand-new, screening specific film scores incorporate a combination of composed and improvised music by some of Chicago’s finest experimental and jazz musicians. The “Experimental Sound Series” is presented with Experimental Sound Studio, a non-profit, artist-run organization focused on sound in all its exploratory cultural manifestations, including music, sound art, installation, cinema, performing arts, sound poetry, broadcast, new media, and more.

Siren of the Tropics
Mario Nalpas & Henri Etievant, 1928, 86 min.

Black Cinema House
6901 S. Dorchester Ave.