Ben R. Caldwell
Arts educator and independent filmmaker Ben Caldwell grew up assisting his grandfather, who projected movies at a small theater in New Mexico. His passion for the visual arts lead him to study film at UCLA and reside in the neighborhood of Leimert Park, epicenter for the African American art scene in Los Angeles. After teaching film and video at Howard University in Washington, D.C. from 1981-84, Caldwell returned to Leimert Park and created an independent studio for video production and experimentation that became the KAOS Network, a community arts center that provides training on digital arts, media arts and multimedia. It remains the only organization of its kind in South Central Los Angeles that offers courses in video production, animation, website development, video teleconferencing, CD-ROM production and Internet exploration. Its legendary Project Blowed is a weekly open-mic workshop that gave birth to rappers and rap groups such as Aceyalone, Medusa, Busdriver, Freestyle Fellowship and Jurassic Five.
Caldwell’s films often trace historical and cultural connections. Eyewitness: Reflections of Malcolm X & the O.A.A.U. (2006) presents the Harlem reunion of ex-members of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. La Buena Vida (The Good Life) (2008), filmed over the course of three years while Caldwell taught at the California Institute of the Arts, documents the cultural exchanges between a group of hip hop artists and musicians from Los Angeles and their counterparts in Havana, Cuba.
Participants in Sankofa City Summer School: South Side Design Fiction Workshop present their visions for the future of our neighborhood, in the form of speculative design videos and objects that imagine new possibilities for public spaces.
Join us for an evening with Ben R. Caldwell as the artist, renowned L.A. Rebellion filmmaker, and founder of the KAOS Network community arts center in Leimert Park, Los Angeles discusses his multifaceted work and its connection to Afrofuturism. Since 2017 Caldwell has guided the Gray Center's Sankofa City program.