Hitch a ride on route 666 with Mickey and Mallory, the celebrity crime couple at the decentered core of Oliver Stone's most controversial film. Screened in its full, unwieldy director's cut, carnage collides with zealous media moguls all set to a searing soundtrack littered with Nine Inch Nails, L7 and Patti Smith. For author, graphic novelist and The L Word scribe Ariel Schrag, "something about Mallory Knox's rage, her fuck-all attitude, her shitlist ass kicking spoke to everything queer and ready to burst inside my fourteen-year-old self... At that age the intensity of this frenzied, hallucinatory, collage-style film felt like some version of the truth."
Everyone remembers FAME’s Oscar-winning title song, but how many of us can recall the brilliant way the film depicts the struggles of developing artists? Over four years, a group of teenage performers at NYC’s High School of the Arts deal with issues familiar to anyone in creative fields – from rejection to self-discovery to sacrifice and beyond. Since helping others learn to navigate those waters is part of our mission at Q/A/F, we’re thrilled that our guest presenter, multi-disciplinary artist Kia LaBeija has chosen this wonderful film. Kia writes, “Creativity stimulates minds, forms discipline and shapes well rounded young adults. This film is one of my favorites.”
The Goddess of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda, opens this poetic opus with a drifter -- played by the brilliant Sandrine Bonnaire -- found frozen on the roadside. Told through flashbacks, Vagabond traces the route of Mona, as she moves through French farmlands, wandering in and out of the lives and loves of men and women, alike. "It’s rare to see a young woman’s life portrayed in such utter singularity, outside of society, and with a will so strong," writes K8 Hardy - artist, filmmaker and founding member of the queer feminist journal LTTR. "The power of this film shook me to the core and also made me realize that it is possible to make something without the traps of sexism."
Charles Busch presents HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE
“Suspense that starts with an agonized whisper and mounts to a shattering climax!” With all the teeming ingredients of a Southern Gothic potboiler, sweet Charlotte lives a life of demented seclusion, haunted be the mysterious slaying of her married lover some 36 years prior. When a visitor arrives in the form of her estranged cousin, secrets erupt in this Hollywood Golden Age têt-à-têt between first class stars Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. For performer and playwright Charles Busch, the film was a turning point, “I had my father take me to the opening day. The stars were there, promoting the film. I was transfixed,” confesses Busch, “studying how a legendary actress behaves.”
Friday was hailed as an instant classic the moment it hit theaters in 1995, thanks to a breakout performance by Chris Tucker and its loving send-up of familiar black neighborhood figures. For tonight’s guest, poet Angel Nafis, whose work has been compared to Ntozake Shange and June Jordan, seeing her world reflected on screen was a powerful experience, but even more important was the presence of “impossibly fine” actress Nia Long, as a “black girl next door” who wasn’t a stereotype. Nafis found a rare on-screen role model, and felt, “almost itchy with the desire to put her face near my face.” Don’t miss this special 20th anniversary screening.
Jacqueline Woodson presents JAMES BALDWIN: THE PRICE OF THE TICKET
In February, QAF audiences packed the IFC for A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL, about the poet Audre Lorde. This month, we’re thrilled to present another classic film about a landmark black literary figure. PRICE OF THE TICKET brilliantly weaves rarely-seen archival footage from over 100 sources with intimate interviews and eloquent public speeches to form an astounding portrait of the legendary writer and Civil Rights leader James Baldwin. For award-winning Young Adult author Jacqueline Woodson, who dreamed of meeting Baldwin, the film “shows us his brilliance and thoughtfulness, his before his time-ness,” and “allows us to meet the man who changed so many lives.” As August, 2015 marks James Baldwin’s 90th birthday, we are proud to present this valuable and vibrant documentary masterwork in celebration of one of New York’s most significant sons.
Colman Domingo and Special Guest Rhonda Ross present MAHOGANY
Black Summer Nights is thrilled to kick off Gay Pride Month with this one-of-a-kind melodrama turned gay cult classic starring Diana Ross as a working class woman whose meteoric rise from shopgirl to high fashion model tohaute couture designer is challenged by her relationships with a dashing politician (Billy Dee Williams) and a malevolent gay photographer (Anthony Perkins). We were originally planning on welcoming Tony award-winning, actor, singer and playwright COLMAN DOMINGO (SELMA, PASSING STRANGE) as our guest host tonight, but Colman’s been cast in a fantastic new film and has been suddenly called away. But he’ll still be intro-ing the film via Skype, and then, since we couldn’t leave you without a FABULOUS guest for the post-screening Q&A, we’re thrilled to welcome the one and only RHONDA ROSS, Emmy-nominated actress, jazz singer, and daughter of DIANA ROSS & BERRY GORDY, the star and director of Mahogany!!! We’re thrilled to have Rhonda with us to offer her incredible insights into the legacy of this fabulously fun film!
M. Lamar presents LOOKING FOR LANGSTON & Isaac Julien Shorts
We are thrilled to kick off BLACK SUMMER NIGHTS with this Teddy Award-winning film, which became a cult hit thanks to director Isaac Julien’s sensual and dreamlike portrait of the gay poet Langston Hughes and his affairs during the Harlem Renaissance. For our guest host tonight, the musician and performance artist M. Lamar, whose work regularly explores black history and sexuality, the power of this and other Julien films is seeing, “Black men, black beauty and black homosexuality on screen as it has never been seen before or since.” He continues, “In the wake of Ferguson I would love for us to look at this film and think about how black men are seen in our culture and how this film disrupts that white supremacist view.”
When a seemingly well-adjusted family gets a visit from a mischievous old friend named Harry (Danny Glover), his actions turn their entire world upside down. Is Harry evil? The devil? Or something else? And will the family be able to stop him before it’s too late? Acclaimed writer-director Charles Burnett’s (KILLER OF SHEEP) third feature is a brilliantly observed family drama which draws on Black folklore to explore the tensions that run beneath all our stabile lives. Standout performances from Glover, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Mary Alice and Ethel Ayler helped net it four Independent Spirit Awards and a special jury prize at Sundance. The rarely screened film is also a favorite of our guest host, the amazing singer-songwriter Toshi Reagon, who recently celebrated 31 legendary years performing at Joe’s Pub and has worked with everyone from Lenny Kravitz to Pete Seeger. “The first time I saw it I stood up and clapped when it was over,” she writes. We’re sure you will too.
Tim Burton put the goth back in Gotham for his hit 1992 sequel BATMAN RETURNS, which features a villainess who finds her strength through kinky black bondage wear, a theme song by goth queen Siouxsie and the Banshees and a script by black comedy genius Daniel Waters (HEATHERS). Though it was criticized by parental groups for being too dark, BATMAN RETURNS nonetheless struck a chord with a generation of “middle-American, tortured oddballs” like our guest presenter, performance artist and goth opera wunderkind Joseph Keckler, who remembers being “entranced by the deformed and power-hungry Penguin (Danny DeVito) and even more by the revelation of Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer): undergoing a vampire-like interspecies resuscitation, she transforms from the scattered, apologetic and subservient Selina Kyle to an oversexed vigilante, whip in hand. Still floating around in the collective unconscious of my generation, like trash in the sewers of Gotham, are fantasies of being with her and being her, of coming back to life with claws.”
Jennifer Miller presents A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL: THE LIFE AND WORK OF AUDRE LORDE
Audre Lorde was a poet, a lover, a mother and a warrior. Standing on the front lines of civil and sexual rights struggles, Lorde’s voice rang out with a passion that inspired a generation of activists and artists. A LITANY FOR SURVIVAL traces Lorde’s contribution to the fields of poetry and civil justice, including many interviews with authors like Adrienne Rich and Sapphire, who saw Lorde as a mentor and mother. “I saw the film when it first came out and the Audre Lorde whose presence I got to experience through the film continues to push me,” described Jennifer Miller, performer, dancer and founder of the Circus Amok, a New York based circus-theater company founded in 1989. “I remember being shaken and jolted and led and fed and dropping my jaw and righteous anger and leaving knowing I could do better.”
Tonia rules the drag club scene of Lisbon. But when she decides to transition from male to female, what fates lay in store for her younger lover, her faith, her son and herself? TO DIES LIKE A MAN is a striking epic from acclaimed Portuguese filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues (O Fantasma). Voted Best Undistributed Film of 2009 by the Village Voice, Rodrigues's film is a lyrical and fantastical melodrama that Columbian artist Carlos Motta applauds as a, “beautiful meditation on gender identity, drag, gay culture, aging and death.” Like much of Motta’s work, the film “addresses some the many challenges and vulnerabilities of living a queer life: How does one construct oneself in the world as a queer person? How does one create alternative relationships, families, ties?”