Cinema 53: Congo Oye and Finally Got the News with Cauleen Smith, Robert Bird, Jonathan Flatley and Matt Peterson
On the fiftieth anniversary of 1968, Cinema 53 presents revolutionary films and films about revolution, featuring movies from the 1960s-80s that delve into the pitfalls of revolution and explore the emancipatory potential of film. Co-curated by artist Cauleen Smith and UChicago film scholar Robert Bird, 2018 Andrew Mellon Collaborative Fellows for Arts Practice and Scholarship at the Gray Center, the fall series of screenings and conversation is part of their shared endeavor to unpack the revolutionary potential of filmic images.
This evening’s film screenings hosted by Cauleen Smith and Robert Bird, followed by conversation with Jonathan Flatley and Matt Peterson.
Finally Got the News (Stewart Bird, Rene Lichtman & Peter Gessner with League of Revolutionary Black Workers, 1970, 55m)
An incisive, revelatory portrait of African American autoworkers in Michigan factories, whose grievances had reached a boiling point by 1969. Recombining in independent, militant organizing groups, they attempt to bypass the demands the of auto companies, the resentment of their fellow white workers (many of whom also migrated from rural Southern poverty), and the timidity of their ostensible allies in the United Auto Workers.
Congo Oye: We have come back (Bill Stephens, Paul and Carole Roussopoulas with Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver, 1971, 45m.)
In 1971, while the Black Panther Party was torn by internal warfare and attacks from the FBI COINTELPRO, Eldridge Cleaver led a delegation to the capital city of the People’s Republic of Congo, Brazzaville, hoping to relocate the BPP international section in sub-Saharan Africa to tie the Black Power Movement to an African ‘Socialist’ revolution. The recently unearthed film of this journey documents what might have been a founding moment interconnecting revolutions, and uniting Marxist-based protests from black people worldwide.
This evening’s guests:
Jonathan Flatley is an Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University. He is the author of Like Andy Warhol (University of Chicago Press) and Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Harvard University Press). Flatley has authored numerous articles that appear in New Literary History, Criticism, and Afterall, among others. He has co-edited two volumes of Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature and the Arts and Pop Out: Queer Warhol (Duke University Press).
His current book project, Black Leninism: How Revolutionary Counter-Moods Are Made turns to the formidable resources of the black radical tradition in order to understand how it happens that variously depressed, stunned, and abused persons come together in solidarity to form newly energetic, hopeful, and demanding collectives, which then engage in transformative political action. From W.E.B. Du Bois to the Black Lives Matter movement, it examines the representation and creation of those moments when black people come together as a group for whom collective political action seems urgent, obvious, and vital, and when victory over the forces of white supremacy seems possible.
Matt Peterson co-directed the documentary features Scenes from a Revolt Sustained (2014) and Spaces of Exception (2018). Since 2014 he has collaborated with Malek Rasamny on The Native and the Refugee, a multi-media documentary project on American Indian reservations and Palestinian refugee camps. He was a member of the collectives Red Channels and the 16 Beaver Group, and collaborated with the Brecht Forum and the Public School-New York. He is currently part of a commune in New York called Woodbine.
His films and videos have screened at Akademiya Mezopotamya (Rojava), American University of Beirut, Anthology Film Archives, Bard College, Columbia University, Dawawine (Beirut), e-flux, Echo Park Film Center, L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris), Eyebeam, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Flux Factory, The Freedom Theatre (West Bank), Indiana University Bloomington, International House Philadelphia, Komina Film a Rojava, Maysles Cinema, Millennium Film Workshop, MoMA PS1, School of Visual Arts, Spectacle Theater, Stony Brook University, T Marbouta (Beirut), UnionDocs, University of California Berkeley, University of Cambridge, University of Chicago, and VIVO Media Arts Centre (Vancouver).
His writings have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, The Daily Star, Electronic Intifada, Evergreen Review, Fast Company, The L, Muftah, The New Inquiry, New York Press, and ROAR; and he has spoken and organized events at ABC No Rio, Artists’ Television Access, BAMcinematek, Bluestockings, Centre Pompidou, DCTV, dOCUMENTA 13, Goethe-Institut New York, Interference Archive, Judson Memorial Church, Light Industry, Metrograph, The New School, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and SculptureCenter.