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Black Film Festival

Stars, filmmakers and the black experience

2/9/2016, 3:10 p.m.
The Portland Black Film Festival returns to the Hollywood Theatre in northeast Portland with films screening over the next two ...
Black Caesar is a 1973 blaxploitation crime drama film starring Fred Williamson and Gloria Hendry and a musical score by James Brown. The film will play Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. with Williamson in attendance as a special guest as part of the fourth annual Portland Black Film Festival at the Hollywood Theater, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.

The Portland Black Film Festival returns to the Hollywood Theatre in northeast Portland with seven films to showcase the cinematic achievements of African-American stars, filmmakers, and the black experience.

Founded by the non-profit Hollywood Theatre, and Portland writer and filmmaker David Walker, the festival aims to offer diverse perspectives and stories in an art form all too often dominated by white filmmakers.

The festival opened on Wednesday, Feb. 10 with the 1972 classic film “Buck and the Preacher,” and will culminate on Saturday, Feb. 27, in a screening of the 1973 Blaxploitation classic “Black Caesar” with star Fred “The Hammer” Williamson in attendance.

Williamson, aka “The Hammer” is a former professional football defensive back who played mainly in the American Football League during the 1960s. As an actor, he is most well-known for his films in the 1970s and ’80s, including “Three the Hard Way,” “Bucktown 1990: The Bronx Warriors,” Black Caesar,” and “From Dusk Til Dawn.”

The times and dates for Portland Black Film Festival screenings are as follows:

Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.: “Buck and The Preacher,” a 1972 film starring Sidney Poitier as Buck, a trail guide leading former slaves to homesteads in the West, and Harry Belafonte, the preacher. When vicious white men and bounty hunters begin to terrorize and stop wagon trains heading west, Buck and the Preacher must fight back by any means necessary.

Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.: “Santa Fe Satan (Catch My Soul),” a 1974 rock opera version of Othello starring Richie Havens. Shakespeare’s tragedy of revenge and racism this time plays out in the New Mexico desert, with Othello as the pacifist leader of a hippie commune. Long considered lost, this rare 35mm print was only recently discovered.

Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m.: “Penitentiary,” a 1979 movie about a hitchhiker who gets in a fight with two bikers, and one of the bikers is killed. Ending up in prison, he joins the prison’s boxing team in an effort to secure an early parole and to establish his dominance over the prison’s toughest gang.

Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.: “A Ballerina’s Tale,” a 2015 documentary about ballerina Misty Copeland’s prodigious rise and her potentially career-ending injury, alongside themes of race and body image in the elite ballet world.

Saturday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m.: “Spirits of the Rebellion,” a documentary by Zeinabu Irene Davis that provides intimate access to filmmakers of the “L.A. Rebellion” movement. The film’s topics include the origins of the name “L.A. Rebellion,” the importance of public education, and the intriguing question, “What is a Black film?”

Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m.: “Rap City,” a program co-presented with Re-Run Theater that celebrates the original age of hip hop in the 1980s by compiling clips from the underground TV show “Graffiti Rock,” rare footage of the Rock Steady Crew, one of the first official breakdance crews, and clips from all the biggest rap movies and music videos.

Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.: “Black Caesar,” the 1973 stars Fred Williamson who as a young boy has his leg broken by a dirty cop. Nursing his vengeance through violence, he rises to power in New York City’s Harlem, where he attracts the attention of the head of a Mafia family. Williams will be in attendance for a question and answer session and a discussion of his career.

Admission for the Portland Black Film Festival is $8. To purchase tickets and get more information, call the theater at 503-281-1142 or visit holywoodtheatre.org.