Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paul Robeson Series in June

Join us at 2:00pm, every Sunday in June as we celebrate the film career of one of the greatest and most controversial figures in 20th Century American history, Paul Robeson.

In addition to being an accomplished singer and actor of screen and stage, Robeson was a tireless activist and staunch supporter of African American equality and workers' rights. Each week, we will show one of his seminal works:

June 7: Body and Soul

Robeson's silent screen debut, directed by Oscar Micheaux. Robeson here plays dual leading roles as a corrupt itinerant minister and an innocent, soft-hearted inventor. The movie was an early independent film, controversial for its criticism of the church and churchgoers and the educational differences between characters.

June 14: Proud Valley

Directed by Pen Tennyson, this film exemplifies the political activism behind Robeson's artistic choices. He plays an American sailor joining with Welsh miners to protest their mistreatment at the hand of their wealthy bosses; Robeson's labor sympathies are highlighted, as is his lifelong commitment to social justice.

June 21: Emperor Jones

Directed by Dudley Murphy and based on the play by Eugene O'Neil, this is Robeson's first sound-era film, in which he reprises the role of Brutus Jones. He was already familiar with the character, having performed it onstage, but this was the first "big-budget", headlining movie with star-billing for an African-American actor. This is often considered Robeson's most "iconic", breakthrough movie role, though he was already known onstage for his long-running portrayal of Othello.

June 28: Jericho

Directed by Thornton Freeland, Robeson described this as his most satisfying role, depicting a positive image of a black man of courage, honor and intelligence who works toward a life of happiness and success. He plays an officer in World War I, who escapes to Africa to avoid a court-martial; once there, he forges a new life among the Taureg.

We hope you can join us for these amazing films, as well as all the other great programs we have lined up for the Summer months.

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