Affirmation & Resistance: Black World Film Series

“Affirmation & Resistance: Black World Film Series” (ARBWFS) showcases a wide selection of classic & contemporary films that resist and challenge negative racial stereotypes and affirm positive portrayals of African Americans and people of African descent. The series is sponsored by the North End Breakfast Club and the Art Theater Co-op.

The series seeks to affirm African American and African descendant life, cultures and identities, and explore forms of resistance to racial oppression and economic exploitation and to grapple with issues of class, color, nationality, gender, generation and sexuality within African Diasporic communities.

Each film is followed by a panel discussion. The participants include scholars and racial/social justice activists. The film series and post film discussions seek to foster communication and understanding among African Americans and African descendant peoples and between these communities and people from diverse racial, cultural and lifestyle groups.

If you are interested in donating to support this series, please contact Austin at austin[at]

Daughters of the Dust

NR, 100 minutes


Post-show Q&A feat. ruth nicole brown, Evelyn Reynolds, Krystal Smalls, & Sundiata Cha-Jua 

At the dawn of the 20th century, a multi-generational family in the Gullah community on the Sea Islands off of South Carolina – former West African slaves who adopted many of their ancestors’ Yoruba traditions – struggle to maintain their cultural heritage and folklore while contemplating a migration to the mainland, even further from their roots.

Cohen Media Group is proud to present the 25th anniversary restoration of director Julie Dash’s landmark film Daughters of the Dust. The first wide release by a black female filmmaker, Daughters was met with wild critical acclaim and rapturous audience response when it initially opened in 1991. Casting a long legacy, it still resonates today, most recently as a major in influence on Beyonce’s video album Lemonade. Restored (in conjunction with UCLA) for the first time with proper color grading overseen by cinematographer AJ Jafa, audiences will finally see the film exactly as Julie Dash intended. (1991, Julie Dash, NR, 112 min, DCP)

I Am Not Your Negro

NR, 95 minutes

Date/time TBA (probably Feb 28 Q&A)


Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck has taken the 30 completed pages of James Baldwin’s final, unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, in which the author went about the painful task of remembering his three fallen friends Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, and crafted an elegantly precise and bracing film essay. Peck’s film, about the unholy agglomeration of myths, institutionalized practices both legal and illegal, and displaced white terror that have long perpetuated the tragic state of race in America, is anchored by the presence of Baldwin himself in images and words, read beautifully by Samuel L. Jackson in hushed, burning tones. (2017, Raoul Peck, NR, 95 min, DCP)

“It is a striking work of storytelling. By assembling the scattered images and historical clips suggested by Baldwin’s writing, I Am Not Your Negro is a cinematic séance, and one of the best movies about the civil rights era ever made.” —The Guardian

Cooley High

PG, 105 minutes


Shot entirely on location on the Near North Side of Chicago for $675,000, Cooley High was marketed by American International Pictures as the black American Graffiti, though the Los Angeles Times’ s comparison to Mean Streets is a little closer to the film’s graceful balance of violence and comedy. Chicago native/Good Times creator Eric Monte based the script on his own experiences at the now-demolished Cooley Vocational High School during the mid-’60s, following the last days of high school for Preach (Glynn Turman) and Cochise (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs). The majority of the nonprofessional supporting cast were culled from the Cabrini Green area. Many still remember a white stretch limo pulling up to their street corner and conspicuously offering them jobs in a movie. Wearing Chicago on its sleeve, Cooley High made waves across the country, and was recognized by the City Council of Los Angeles for depicting “the awkwardness, the exuberance, aspirations, despair, and culture of urban youth trying to escape the stifling confines of the inner-city.” (1975, Michael Schultz, PG, 107 min)


Blade L


R, 120 minutes

Post-show discussion feat. Sundiata Cha-Jua (UIUC African-American Studies)

Vampire Hunter + Pan-African Revolutionary? Before Ryan Coogler’s BLACK PANTHER (anticipated 2018) and Netflix’s LUKE CAGE, there was BLADE. As part of Affirmation & Resistance: Black World Film series, UIUC Professor Sundiata Cha-Jua takes us through this 1998 horror-action-comic book hit, starring Wesley Snipes at his peak as Blade. In the film adaptation of the Marvel Comics character, first introduced in 1973, Blade is a tortured half-man, half-immortal vampire hunter sharpening his lethal skills under the guidance of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson) – his mentor, guardian and fellow vampire hunter. When an evil race of vampires led by Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) threatens humanity, Blade is their only hope. But what is on the surface a tale of vampires, good & evil lurks a political narrative about race, class, and power in the 20th century. (1998, Stephen Norrington, 120 min, R, HD)

Black Girl

NR, 65 minutes


Ousmane Sembène, one of the greatest and most groundbreaking filmmakers who ever lived and the most internationally renowned African director of the twentieth century, made his feature debut in 1966 with the brilliant and stirring Black Girl (La noire de . . .). Sembène, who was also an acclaimed novelist in his native Senegal, transforms a deceptively simple plot—about a young Senegalese woman who moves to France to work for a wealthy white couple and finds that life in their small apartment becomes a figurative and literal prison—into a complex, layered critique on the lingering colonialist mindset of a supposedly postcolonial world. Featuring a moving central performance by Mbissine Thérèse Diop, Black Girl is a harrowing human drama as well as a radical political statement—and one of the essential films of the 1960s. (1966, Ousmane Sembène)

Past Events

The Murder of Fred Hampton

NR, 90 minutes


Post-show Q&A feat. scholars/activists Imani Bazzell, James Kilgore, Charisse Burden-Stelly, Augustus Wood, & moderated by Sundiata Cha-Jua

The landmark 1971 documentary of the Illinois Black Panther Party and its fiery, young, brilliant chairman, Fred Hampton. What began as a film portrait of Hampton and the IBPP changed when, halfway through the shoot, Hampton was murdered by Chicago policeman. In an infamous moment in Chicago history, over a dozen policeman burst into Hampton’s apartment while its occupants were sleeping, killing Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark and brutalizing the other occupants. Filmmakers Mike Gray & Howard Alk arrived a few hours later to shoot film footage of the crime scene that was later used to contradict news reports and police testimony. Recently restored & reworked by Gray, The Murder of Fred Hampton is a chilling and invigorating slice of American history. (1971, Mike Gray & Howard Alk, 90 min, NR)

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