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IU Cinema to celebrate Black History Month with 1970s films

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The Black Film Center/Archive will show its series “Love! I’m in Love! Classic Black Cinema of the 1970s” at the IU Cinema throughout February.

The series will feature films that celebrate black lives and black film stars learning how to live in happy and intimate relationships, according to the IU Cinema website.

Films will include “Claudine” at 7 p.m. Thursday, “A Warm December” at 7 p.m. Feb. 14 and “Aaron Loves Angela” at 7 p.m. Feb. 17.

Terri Francis, director of the Black Film Center/Archive, associate professor of media and cinema studies at IU and curator of the series, said the films in the series were inspired by the 2018 restoration of “Something Good — Negro Kiss," an 1898 film of two black actors kissing and laughing together. Francis said she was also inspired by the recent keynote speech from actress Viola Davis at IU.

“The human experience has a variety of faces, skin colors and ages,” Francis said. “This film was a rare depiction of black love.”

Francis said she chose films from the 1970s because they are still relevant to both older and younger audiences. 

“As a professor, one of my tasks is to show complex representations of adult life and give students the opportunity to engage,” Francis said.

The series will feature two discussion events about the historical context of black cinema by Philana Payton, a doctoral candidate at University of Southern California, and Allyson Field, associate professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. 

Field will speak about the rediscovery and restoration of “Something Good — Negro Kiss” at an additional event at 12:15 p.m. Feb. 21 in Franklin Hall 312. Field said that as a historian, it was moving to see how the film’s representation of love spoke to audiences.

“It is remarkable to see how films speak to each other across time,” Field said. “And how they speak to us, even though we are so far removed from that time.”

Prior to the screening of “Claudine,” Payton will speak about actress Diahann Carroll’s impact on the perception of black matriarchy in film. The film is about a single mother played by Carroll who raises her children by working as a domestic maid for rich white families. 

“Diahann Carroll was the epitome of star power at the time,” Payton said. “Her persona at the time helped the film become more palpable for mainstream audiences.”

Audiences from different backgrounds and experiences were able to connect with the film, Payton said.

"Claudine was a very specific working class black story, but everyone can connect to the film," Payton said. "It's about the human experience."

Tickets are free through the IU Cinema’s website up to one hour before showtime.

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