Richard Avedon Film Series: Program 3

Related Exhibition Richard Avedon

Thursday, July 16, 2009, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 3:00 p.m.

Phyllis Wattis Theater

In Seven Songs for Malcolm X, archival footage is combined with interviews and re-creations to evoke the impact of Malcolm X on American politics and culture. The film includes interviews with Spike Lee; Malcolm X's wife, Betty Shabazz; and essayist Greg Tate, with narration by novelist Toni Cade Bambara.

In response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the town of Drew, Mississippi, created a "freedom of choice" plan for its public schools — with the certainty that no African Americans would send their children to the extant all-white schools. Matthew and Mae Bertha Carter, sharecroppers and parents of 13 children, broke with this expectation and sent their seven youngest into the formerly segregated system. The Intolerable Burden, partially based on producer Constance Curry's 1995 book Silver Rights, follows the course of the Carters' singular decision.

A pioneer of experimental cinema and structuralist film, Jacobs's Perfect Film is a fortuitous find. Purchasing a reel of film from a bin in lower Manhattan, Jacobs discovered discarded news footage about Malcolm X's assassination. Save for boosted sound in the second half, the footage remains as Jacobs discovered it: raw evidence of an historical moment.

Additional Info

Seven Songs for Malcolm X
John Akomfrah, 1993, 52 min., 16mm

The Intolerable Burden
Chea Prince, 2003, 56 min., video

Perfect Film
Ken Jacobs, 1986, 22 min., 16mm

Image: John Akomfrah, Seven Songs for Malcolm X (still), 1995; photo courtesy of Smoking Dogs Films

SFMOMA thanks Alex Cherian, San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive film archivist, for his assistance and support of this program.