Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bill Gunn's STOP to screen in Brooklyn on April 4th!

We're thrilled to report that a VHS copy of Bill Gunn's STOP (#5 on our seemingly neverending "Endangered List") will be screened for free at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on Sunday, April 4th as part of a terrific 4-day retrospective of Gunn's challenging, powerful, and fascinating body of film work. As far as we know, this will be the first public screening of STOP in 20 years [More details can be found below and here].

BAMcinématek presents
The Groundbreaking Bill Gunn

Thursday, April 1

Written by Ishmael Reed
Directed by Bill Gunn
with Vertamae Grosvenor, Walter Cotton, Sam Waymon, Ishmael Reed

A pioneering video work, which premiered at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and screened on WNYC in New York, is self-described by writer Ishamel Reed as an "avant-garde soap opera...which permitted black producers, a black director, black actors, and black writers and actresses to have control over their work."

Friday, April 2
GANJA & HESS (1973) -- Introduced by Pearl Bowser
@6:50, 9:15pm

Written and directed by Bill Gunn
with Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon

"Ganja & Hess is jolting, jagged, lyrical, mythic and utterly unclassifiable, as avant-garde as the most independent film of today or any of the New American Cinema work from the 1960s or audacious studio films of the 1970s, with resonances one isn’t likely to encounter ever again.”Hammer to Nail

Cult hero Duane Jones (star of Night of the Living Dead) plays a doctor who, after traveling through Africa, takes on the characteristics of a vampire. A hard-to-find masterpiece of 70s American cinema, the film is a complete original, mind-bending and brutal. “One of the most beautiful and unusual films ever produced in the United States.” —Ishmael Reed

Saturday, April 3
@2, 4:30, 6:50, 9:15pm

Screenplay by Bill Gunn
Based on the novel by Kristin Hunter
Directed by Hal Ashby
with Beau Bridges, Lee Grant, Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey

“Something like a Marx Brothers movie charged up on LSD and left-wing politics… a compelling and adventurous spectacle, which feels simultaneously like a time capsule and a crucial influence on such recent films as The Royal Tenenbaums and Half Nelson.”Salon

WASP-y rich kid Elgar Enders (Bridges) buys an apartment building in then-gritty Park Slope with plans to evict the current residents and turn it into a ritzy home for himself. When the black tenants refuse to move out, however, Enders is launched into a series of comic misadventures that begin to change his outlook on life and attitude about race. Hal Ashby’s pointed comedy strikingly predicts contemporary concerns regarding gentrification and presents a nuanced, daring exploration of race relations in America that is surprisingly ahead of its time.

Sunday, April 4
STOP (1970) -- Free screening on VHS

Written and directed by Bill Gunn
with Marlene Clark, Richard Dow, Edward Bell, Linda Marsh

An emotionally violent poet and his wife leave their snowy confines and head to San Juan, their marriage imploding. Filmed in languorous soft light, the images turn from dreamlike to hallucinogenic when another couple enters their orbit. One of the first studio films by an African-American director, yet unique by not focusing on race, having an experimental narrative and introducing a homosexual element new to the period. Perhaps all reasons it was never released. Free screening presented on video.

@4:30, 6:50, 9:15pm

Screenplay co-written by Bill Gunn
Based on the story by Bernard Malamud
Directed by Ján Kadár
with Zero Mostel, Harry Belafonte, Gloria Foster

An adaptation of the whimsical Bernard Malamud story about an elderly Jewish tailor (Mostel) who suffers from a bad back, a dying wife, and financial problems. Just when things look as if they can’t get any worse, a black Jewish man (Belafonte playing the bad boy of heaven) shows up in his kitchen claiming to be an angel from God sent to help.


Nick Cato said...

Thanks for the head's up---I MUST get to the ganja & hess screening...

Invisible Woman said...

wow, i really REALLY wish i could have attended this so badly--really want to see Stop. Never heard of The Angel Levine--Gunn was really ahead if his time in every regard; wish he could have lived to see how much people appreciate his work right now.

Temple of Schlock said...

Invisible Woman -- THE ANGEL LEVINE is out on DVD from MGM and should be available through Netflix. It ain't THE LANDLORD but it's worth a look...and STOP ain't GANJA AND HESS but it's still a fascinating work that deserved more than the cold shoulder it got from Warners.

Mike White said...

I'm still hoping to see STOP one of these days. Wish I had a dupe of that VHS!

Mike White said...

Warner Archives says: We were close to moving forward with a release, but came to a halt due to lack of necessary information in corporate files to confirm clearances. Nothing likely to happen until that is resolved. Very disappointing.