The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the August Wilson Center will showcase African-American contributions to the silver screen with the first-ever Black Bottom Film Festival (BBFF). The event takes place from February 24-26 and includes a selection of features, shorts and documentaries that “parallel the reoccurring themes of spirituality, family conflict, race and working class struggle that serve as the foundation for August Wilson’s award-winning and internationally renowned Pittsburgh Cycle plays.”
The festival will also recognize the creative contributions of filmmaker Michael Schultz. As one of the first African-American directors hired by the major studios, Schultz opened the doors for directors of color with such features as Car Wash, Krush Groove and The Last Dragon. His career has spanned more than four decades and includes films, children’s programming, and television episodes for series such as Blackish, New Girl, My Crazy-Ex-Girlfriend and Arrow.
See event schedule and details below:
Post-Racial Cinema: Black Film in The Obama Age
Reelblack Podcast co-hosts Mike D. and Charles Woods identify trends and milestones in Black films released from 2008-2016.
Friday Night Shorts
Selections include Dream (dir. Nijla Mu’min), A Day in the Life of a Hashtag and African in America (dir. Njaimeh Njie), Ghetto Steps (dir. Emmai Alaquiva), and Father’s Day (dir. Demetrius Wren).
Chapter & Verse (dir. Jamal Joseph)
After serving eight years in prison, reformed gang leader S. Lance Ingram re-enters society and struggles to adapt to a changed Harlem. Living under the tough supervision of a parole officer in a halfway house, he is unable to find a job that will let him use the technological skills he gained in prison. Lance is forced to take a job delivering for a food pantry where he befriends Ms. Maddy, a strong and spirited grandmother, and assumes responsibility for her 15-year-old grandson Ty, a promising student who is pulled into a dangerous street gang. When gang members decide to punish Ty for disobeying the “law of the streets,” Lance risks sacrificing his “second chance” at freedom so that Ty can have a “first chance” at a better life. Starring Daniel Beaty, Omari Hardwick, Loretta Devine and Selenis Leyva.
Saturday at the Cine
Screenings include the short Father’s Day from University of Pittsburgh professor Demetrius Wren and the documentary Agents of Change by Frank Dawson. Includes Q&As with Wren and Dawson.
Michael Schultz Q&A
Schultz sits down for a conversation with the newly appointed CEO of Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Germaine Williams.
Like Cotton Twines (dir. Leila Djansi)
Jay Ellis (The Game, Insecure) plays an American volunteer who takes a teaching job in a Ghanaian village. There he meets a bright girl who must atone for a deadly accident committed by her father and, according to custom, must abandon her education to be offered into religious slavery.
Michael Schultz will receive an award commissioned Pittsburgh-based artist Thad Mosley during the BBFF for Cinematic Excellence Ceremony. The evening includes a retrospective of Schultz’s work and a screening of Cooley High, his 1975 film about a group of teenage friends living in 1964 Chicago.
Late Night Feature
See a late night screening of Which Way Is Up?, Michael Schultz’s 1977 comedy starring Richard Pryor in multiple roles.
Spirits of Rebellion: Black Cinema from U.C.L.A. (dir. Zeinabu Irene Davis)
Documentary filmmaker Zeinabu Irene Davis goes behind and in front of the camera as she profiles several filmmakers identified with the L.A. Rebellion, including Charles Burnett, Ben Caldwell, Julie Dash, Haile Gerima, Barbara McCullough, and Billy Woodberry.
Destination Planet Negro (dir. Kevin Willmott)
In 1939, a group of African-American intellectuals come up with an ingenious and unlikely response to Jim Crow America – leave the planet and populate Mars. Using technology created by George Washington Carver, a three-person crew and one rambunctious robot lift-off in Earth’s first working spaceship on a mission that will take them to a world not unlike present-day America. Their spacey adventure illuminates some hard truths about American culture and threatens to undermine the timeline of history along the way.
Two Trains Runnin’ (dir. Sam Pollard)
The feature-length documentary by filmmaker Sam Pollard pays tribute to a pioneering generation of musicians and cuts to the heart of our present moment, offering a crucial vantage from which to view the evolving dynamics of race in America. The film is narrated by Common and features the music of Gary Clark Jr.
All events take place at the August Wilson Center. A Q&A will follow each screening. Tickets cost $15 for a single-day pass and $35 for a festival pass and are available for purchased online, over the phone at (412) 456-6666 or in person at the Theater Square Box Office. Tickets will also be sold, based on availability, two hours before the event time at the August Wilson Center’s box office located at the venue.