Free Films Thursdays in August

The SNF Parkway Theatre is excited to continue our FREE THURSDAYS series in August, presenting a diverse group of films, with FREE admission to all (first come, first served)!

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution – August 10, 7:30pm

Director: Stanley Nelson 2015, USA, 113 minutes

The first feature-length documentary to explore the Black Panther Party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Master documentarian Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, Tell Them We Are Rising) goes straight to the source, weaving a treasure trove of rare archival footage with the voices of the people who were there.

Come Back, Africa – August 17, 7:30pm

Director: Lionel Rogosin, 1959, South Africa/United States, 86 minutes, Language: English, Afrikaans and Zulu

After witnessing firsthand the terrors of fascism as a soldier in World War II, director Lionel Rogosin vowed to fight against it wherever and whenever he saw its threats reemerging. In an effort to expose “what people try to avoid seeing,” Rogosin travelled to apartheid-struck South Africa and secretly filmed Come Back, Africa, which revealed the cruelty and injustice with which black South Africans were treated.

Apartheid rule, a legal system of separation according to race, began in South Africa in 1948. This system forced black South Africans—who composed a majority of the public’s population—into crowded slums where they received poorer public services than those provided to the white minority. Before beginning the production of Come Back, Africa, Rogosin spent several months touring Africa, becoming accustomed to the way of life in South Africa and acquiring a sense of the apartheid government’s sensitivity to anti-government “conspiracies”–such as the very film he wished to create.

A jarring view of a largely concealed environment of injustice, Come Back, Africa honestly and sincerely captures images of the long faces of a people oppressed. Casting occurred before the script for the movie was written; the script itself was a vague sketch of plot points which the actors added to with their own dialogue, to make the film a more authentic representation of the living conditions of the time.

Killer of Sheep – August 24, 7:30pm

Director: Charles Burnett, 1977, USA, 80 minutes

Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouse. Frustrated by money problems, he finds respite in moments of simple beauty: the warmth of a coffee cup against his cheek, slow dancing with his wife in the living room, holding his daughter. The film offers no solutions; it merely presents life — sometimes hauntingly bleak, sometimes filled with transcendent joy and gentle humor. Killer of Sheep was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry and the National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the “100 Essential Films” of all time. Milestone’s premiere of the restored Killer of Sheep was at the 2007 Berlinale Film Festival.

Desert Hearts – August 31, 7:30pm

Director: Donna Deitch, 1986, USA, 96 minutes, 4k restoration

Donna Deitch’s swooning and sensual first film, Desert Hearts, was groundbreaking upon its 1986 release: a love story about two women, produced and directed by a woman. In the 1959-set film, an adaptation of a beloved novel by Jane Rule, straitlaced East Coast professor Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) arrives in Reno to file for divorce, but winds up catching the eye of someone new, the younger free spirit Cay (Patricia Charbonneau), touching off a slow seduction that unfolds against the breathtaking desert landscape. With smoldering chemistry between its two leads, an evocative jukebox soundtrack, and vivid cinematography by Robert Elswit, Desert Hearts beautifully exudes a sense of tender yearning and emotional candor.

Free films at the Parkway are first come, first served – no ticket required. We will see you at 5 W. North Avenue!