As part of its nationally renowned Black Lens program, Milwaukee Film announced on January 12 that the nonprofit would devote all of its new public film and event offerings in February to celebrate Black voices and culture for Black History Month programming.
Thirty films and a dozen events that showcase the Black experience will be available virtually, highlighting themes from Black joy to workforce development.
“Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program serves to elevate Black filmmakers, and Black History Month is a tremendous opportunity to continue that mission, as well as celebrate the impact of African Americans across the arts and culture,” said Geraud Blanks, Cultures and Communities director for Milwaukee Film.
Titles will include MFF2020 favorite “Growing Up Milwaukee”; “Nationtime – Gary,” William Greaves’ long-lost documentary on the Black Political Convention of 1972; and “The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show,” which chronicles the first time an African American hosted a late-night TV show for an entire week.
“This past year, more and more of our community has been engaged in conversations around the effects that centuries of racism and inequality have on Black lives and opportunity,” he added. “With our Black History Month programming, we’re looking to use the power of film to advance those discussions and foster change.”
While most films will be available throughout February, events will focus around four weekly themes:
– Black Emotional Health and Identity – February 1-7: This week will include a conversation with musician Kim Hill, best known for her time with the Black Eyed Peas and subject of a short film that will screen with the conversation on February 4.
– Black Love and Joy – February 8-14: Aimed at fostering conversations around the stereotypes and realities of relationships, events will include a conversation with Dr. Joan Morgan, a pioneering author, award-winning journalist, and program director at NYU. She will discuss Black visual culture and the depiction of Black women in popular culture on February 8.
– STEM Week: Diversity in Tech – February 15-21: Events in this week include a live edition of 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s Diverse Disruptors podcast, hosted by Tarik Moody and featuring a panel of tech entrepreneurs and innovators, on February 16.
– Cultures, Communities and Politics – February 22-28: This week highlights stories that capture the social, cultural and political concerns of Black people. Events include a screening and conversation on Tuesday, Feb. 23, with Dr. Laurence Ralph, a Princeton professor of anthropology who developed his book, “The Torture Letters: Reckoning with Police Violence,” into a short film.
This year’s robust Black History Month program builds on the work of Milwaukee Film’s Black Lens program, which has presented films and events featuring Black filmmakers and community leaders since 2014. In 2020, Milwaukee Film developed its Cultures and Communities department to engage the entire community in the nonprofit’s mission and programs, including Black Lens. In March, Milwaukee Film movies and events will honor Women’s History Month.
In addition to the presenting sponsorship from Molson Coors, Black History Month programming is presented with widespread corporate and community support, including from the following organizations: Advocate Aurora Health, CUNA Mutual Group, the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, Kohl’s, ManpowerGroup, Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County in partnership with ManpowerGroup, UWM Student Union Sociocultural Programming, as well as promotional partners Madison365 and The Forum.