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Black History Month at MoMI features work by Black filmmakers and performers

February 4, 2023

Danny Glover in To Sleep with Anger

This Black History Month, the Museum is pleased to present a selection of films made by Black filmmakers and performers. Screenings include Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, Charles Burnett’s To Sleep with Anger, and James Whale’s Show Boat, starring Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel—all as part of the series Snubbed: Great Films, No Nominations—and After Sherman, Jon-Sesrie Goff's personal documentary exploring intergenerational tensions in the post-civil rights era South. In addition, the Museum will host the Afrikan Poetry Theatre’s Black History Month celebration.

In our galleries, the Museum continues to present An Act of Seeing: Barry Jenkins’s The Gaze, which features production material from the Amazon original series The Underground Railroad as well as Jenkins’s companion piece, The Gaze, shown in its entirety; and Adapting Stories for the Screen: Chinonye Chukwu’s Till, a temporary exhibit that looks at the process of creating the story depicted in Chinonye Chukwu’s acclaimed 2022 feature Till.

See below for upcoming screenings and events at the Museum:

Show Boat
February 4 & 10
Show Boat follows the lives of the performers and workers on a Mississippi River showboat. Expressively adapted for the screen by James Whale, this Jerome Kern–Oscar Hammerstein musical was considered radical at the time for its serious treatment of race. Paul Robeson’s “Ol’ Man River” is the most famous of its many great musical numbers, and impossible as it is to imagine, his iconic performance failed to be recognized at the Oscars. Hattie McDaniel also appears. Part of the series Snubbed and Musical Matinees. Get tickets

After Sherman
With director Jon-Sesrie Goff in person

February 17
South Carolina, a community deeply rooted in Gullah culture, soaking up stories told on his grandmother’s porch. On June 17, 2015, Goff and his parents were on their way to lead a meeting at Mother Emanuel church. Within several hours, nine parishioners, including Reverend Pinckney, had been shot dead. In a state of shock, Goff began to create After Sherman. Both a history lesson and a visual survey, After Sherman is structured around the filmmaker’s journey to tell a personal story of national significance. Part of the ongoing series New Adventures in Nonfiction. Get tickets

To Sleep with Anger
February 18 & 19
Made at a turning point of the American independent film boom, Charles Burnett’s mesmerizing To Sleep with Anger had a major movie star (Danny Glover) in the leading role and became one of the most talked-about low-budget movies of the year. A brilliant and provocative domestic drama about a Black family contending with the effects of a mysterious houseguest in contemporary Los Angeles, Burnett’s film has endured and continues to astound. Part of the series Snubbed; presented in restored 4K DCP. Get tickets

Listen to a conversation with Burnett when he visited the Museum here.

February 26 & March 4
Written with his brother and sister Cinqué Lee and Joie Lee, Spike Lee’s vibrant and highly personal film unfolds from the viewpoint of a nine-year-old girl named Troy who lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the 1970s with her parents (played by Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo) and four older brothers. Kids get in trouble, parents try to make ends meet, and everyone in the neighborhood gets in the way. Part of the series Snubbed. Get tickets

The Afrikan Poetry Theatre Presents Black History Month Film Festival 
February 25 & 26
MoMI is proud to host The Afrikan Poetry Theatre’s Black History Month Film Festival, featuring films that explore and reflect on modern relationships and family dynamics. The festival celebrates the achievements of local Black directors, writers, and producers who have created thought-provoking films about love, loss, heartbreak, and migration. This two-day program will include two short film programs, a feature film presentation, and panel discussions. Learn more

In addition to these highlighted screenings and events, visit the Museum's online resources for recorded conversations with Black artists including Charles Burnett, Ava Duvernay (Middle of Nowhere, Selma), Halle Berry (Things We Lost in the Fire), and Nekisa Cooper (Pariah). Learn more