In connection with the exhibition of Gordon Parks’ photographs under the title “I use my camera as a weapon”, showing at Wrocław Contemporary Museum from 2 June to 21 August, we would like to invite you to a series of film screenings about subjects raised by the famous Afro-American photographer. We are going to present six very different feature films and four “Lectures on Deckchairs” – meetings on the museum roof involving free conversations about selected topics.

Parks’ work triggers questions and reflections about the situation of black people in America throughout decades: How did their position change during the transition from slavery to the civil rights movement, and how did American artists comment on it? When was Griffith’s racist “The Birth of a Nation” finally discredited? What Hollywood stories replaced it, and what roles were black actors given? This short overview will serve as an illustration of past transformations. However, we will also take into account the fact that although the position of African-Americans has improved, some groups, such as Latinos, are still subject to social exclusion. Join us on this filmic journey so that we can together discuss these problems and compare them with the European idea of multiculturalism and social differentiation, which is currently in crisis in spite of many years of popularisation.

On 22 June, 29 June, 6 July and 13 July at 7 pm there will be “Lectures on Deckchairs” on the museum roof. Their subjects will be connected with the contents of the films. They are intended to broaden the context and make the issues raised in the presented films more specific. The first lecture, concerning the image of African-Americans in Hollywood films, will be delivered by Marta Wróbel (host of the blog “Black America” and cultural journalist). In the following week, we will meet with Marta Malinowska, a journalist who runs the programme “Rhythm of the Street” in Radio Wrocław Kultura. She will talk about the fascination of the main stream with a culture whose origins can be traced back to poor black naighbourhoods. In July, we will focus on races and groups that are currently discriminated against in the USA, and then – on a multicultural vision of the world.

Cinema on the Roof: “The Golden Dream”, dir. Diego Quemada-Diez, Spain/Mexico/Guatemala 2013, 110′
9.07, 9:30 PM, terrace on the roof of MWW

“The region of Latin America does not lie in the centre of our attention. However, this is the stage of one of the greatest contemporary humanitarian tragedies – comparable with, and even exceeding in its size, the tragedy connected with the destabilization of the Middle East and the expansion of ISIS. Because of the lack of perspectives, tens or even hundreds of thousands of people (it is impossible to precisely estimate the scale of the phenomenon) are losing their lives trying to reach a country perceived as an oasis of freedom and wealth. Their plight is ruthlessly exploited by human traffickers, who demand a ransom from family members, force young women into prostitution and men – into hard labour. Sometimes, when the kidnapped people are considered worthless, they are simply murdered. The immigrants must also beware of the Mexican police, who are actually functioning in a pathological collusion with the criminal underworld. At the end of the chain there are the coyotes who promise to smuggle those fortunate enough to reach this point across the closely guarded border, without any guarantee of success and not necessarily in the safest place. Crossing the border opens up a new chapter of the drama, which rarely finishes with a genuine happy end. The world is blind and deaf to the tragedy. In Poland only the readers of Artur Domosławski’s reportages and a handful of experts in the region are aware of it.

Polish cinemagoers have recently been given an opportunity to “touch” the issue – the film “The Golden Dream” entered Polish cinemas on 20 March. It tells the story of three (or actually four – the number changes as the journey progresses) teenagers attempting to cover a trail which dwarfs the adventures of cowboys in the Wild West. Director Diego Quemada made every effort so that the picture ascetically reflects the difficult journey. He discretely outlines the problems plaguing Latin American societies. Sara, the only girl in the group, hides her femininity under a baseball cap, which she wears on short hair, and a bandage tightly wrapped around her chest – she knows that as a woman she is far more likely to fall victim to violence. The conflict between Juan and Chauk could be interpreted in terms of a sense of threat experienced by the former when his girlfriend developed a friendly relationship with a newcomer. However, it is not devoid of a racist sense of superiority of a white boy over a native.”
Fragment of Michał Żakowski’s review

Opening (Shelter Cinema): 7.06, 6 PM | “Shaft”, dir. Gordon Parks, USA 1971, 100′

Cinema on the Roof:

18.06, 9 PM | “12 Years a Slave”, dir. Steve Mc Queen, USA 2013, 133′

2.07, 9:30 PM | “Soul Power”, dir. Jeffrey Kusama-Hinte, USA 2008, 93′

9.07, 9:30 PM | “The Golden Dream”, dir. Diego Quemada-Diez, Spain/Mexico/Guatemala 2013, 110′

16.07, 9:30 PM | “School of Babel”, dir. Julie Bertucelli, France 2014, 89′

Closing (Shelter Cinema): 19.07, 6 PM | “Malcolm X”, dir. Spike Lee, 1992, 202′

*admission to all the events is free
**in order to see the films, you must collect a free ticket (limited number of seats). Free tickets will be available at MWW ticket office on the screening day
***in case of bad weather, the films will be shown at the Shelter Cinema on the first floor of the museum

Curator of the film cycle: Lech Moliński
Curator of MWW public programme: Bartek Lis