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Black Face(s) in Film


For my artistic event, I attended the Black Face(s) in Film exhibit which is located in the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. This exhibit is showing from now up until February 28 so there is still time to go see it.

In going to this exhibit, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. I walked into the library from the entrance that is right off of the Washington Ave. Bridge, and the first thing I saw was the exhibit. Below is a picture of the entrance that I walked in.


The door is covered with ads for different movies from the past. Once I was in the exhibit, there were five different cardboard film reels hanging from the ceiling that listed five different “stations? if you will. The stations were: directors, books made into films, other scripts of interest, Pulitzer Prize winners made into films, and biographies of film stars. Each of these stations had a glass case that was filled with different examples of the station topic.

First was the station was directors. This station had a lot of press kits. One was a press kit from 1992 on the film Malcolm X. This press kit contained lots of images and text from the film. Another film that had a lot of stuff was The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks. This film was made from her novel which was her first novel. It is about a young boy growing up and getting older during the 1920s in Kansas. Along with the screenplay which was dated 1968, the press book was also there which was dated 1996, and this book had a bunch of suggested ads for the film. A picture of this press book is below:


The second station was books made into films. This station had a lot of documents from the making of these films. One example is the novel Daughters of the Dust, by Julie Dash. This is a novel about the Peazants, a large family. Next to this novel was another book called Daughters of the Dust, by Julie Dash with Toni Cade Bambara and bell hooks. This is a book about the 16-year struggle that went into making the original novel into a film.

Third was the other scripts of interest station which was a collection of more books and screenplays.

The forth station was the Pulitzer Prize winners made into film station. This was really interesting to me because it had a lot of films that I had heard of before. It was also worthy of noting that all of these came from a later date. One of the examples was the film/novel Beloved. This is written by Toni Morrison and published in 1987. The premise of Beloved is after the Civil-War in Ohio. The story is about a woman named Sethe who is a slave and has lost both a husband and child. She risks everything to try to escape. Another example is The Color Purple, by Alice Walker published in 1982. This novel also won the American Book Award, in addition to the Pulitzer Prize. This book is about two sisters who remain loyal to each other.

The last and fifth station is the biographies of film stars station. One of the books from this station is Nobody: The Story of Bert Williams, by Ann Charters. This was published in 1970 and it about a comic, but how he was also having to fight against racism.

At each of these stations, there were many more examples than what I have listed. The exhibit is really cool because the actual books that the movies came from are right there for the viewer to see. I really liked seeing the diversity of books that have come from African-American writers. It was also cool because they had some of the actual old film-making things like the one shown below:


All-in-all this exhibit was one that I am glad that I made the hike over the Washington Ave. Bridge for. It was good for me to see this, because before going to it I honestly couldn’t think of any book by an African-American writer that was made into a film except for Their Eyes Were Watching God. This is a great exhibit and the cool thing is that it’s free, so everyone can go!


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