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Screening Freedom Film Series: SSHMP Roberts Collection + The Cry of Jazz

Jul. 16, , 2023 2023
1:00pm - 4:00pm CDT

Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts
915 E 60th St. Chicago, IL 60637
Screening Room 201

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Selections from the Roberts Family Collection of the South Side Home Movie Project are featured alongside REMEMBRANCE: A PORTRAIT STUDY, directed by Edward Owens (1967, 6m) + THE CRY OF JAZZ, directed by Edward Bland (1959, 34m). By drawing thematic, visual and contextual connections between theatrical releases and intimate home movie recordings, the series highlights the ways in which the struggle for Black self-representation occurs at many scales, from blockbuster releases to intimate family records. “Screening Freedom” means elevating all of this work as worthy of exhibition, discussion and preservation.

Screening Freedom continues with a special screening bringing together films that reflect on the power and sociality of Black music in Chicago. Recently restored in a joint project undertaken by Chicago Film Society, The New American Cinema Group, Inc./The Film-Makers’ Cooperative, and the John M, Flaxman Library at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Edward Owens’ REMEMBRANCE: A PORTRAIT STUDY is an experimental ode to Owens’ mother Mildered and her friends, set to hit songs from the 50s and 60s. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Owens uses superimposition and careful staging to summon the powerful ways that music emboldens our connection to our loved ones. In THE CRY OF JAZZ Edward Bland considers another important relationship: between Black music and Black history. A foundation of Black independent filmmaking, THE CRY OF JAZZ combines images of Black neighborhoods, musical performances by jazz giants like Sun Ra, and scenes at an interracial jazz club to powerfully assert the political and cultural singularity of jazz as an expression of Black struggle.

Lastly, this screening will include selections from The Roberts Family Collection of The South Side Home Movie Project. Shot primarily by Herman Roberts, his family and his staff, this collection captures the vibrance of South Side nightlife at the Roberts Show Lounge, a performance venue and hotel founded and operated by Herman Roberts throughout the 1950s. Like Owens’ musical portrait and Bland’s jazz manifesto, Roberts’ collection of amateur recordings offers a rare glimpse into lived rhythms of Black music on Chicago’s South Side, and exemplifies the crucial labor of self-representation that allows us stay in sync with these histories. This collection is represented by the Walker family, who will be present as special guests.

Screening will be followed by catered discussion with Rob and Erica Walker of the Roberts Family in person. Free and open to all.

“Screening Freedom” is brought to you by the Digital Storytelling Initiative at the Logan Center for the Arts, in collaboration with the South Side Home Movie Project at Arts and Public Life and the Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago. Funding for this program was provided by the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture Reimagining the University Fund and the Office of the Provost Diversity & Inclusion 2023 Juneteenth Fund.