Libraries’ ‘Mean Streets’ Program Returns to St. Louis Film Festival

A scene from "For Ahkeem"

A scene from “For Ahkeem”

As part of the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) Nov. 2-12, Washington University Libraries, Washington University’s Sam Fox School’s College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design, Cinema St. Louis and the Missouri History Museum present “Mean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television.”

This five-day program shows how film and television reflect — both consciously and unconsciously — problems within U.S. society, including the overt and covert racism that has long segregated our cities. “Mean Streets” will include both narrative and documentary works that address the strong relationship between racial divisions and urban spaces. The screenings will be accompanied by discussions with filmmakers, film subjects, Washington University and outside scholars, and national cultural critics, followed by Q&As with the audience.

“Mean Streets” is made possible through the generous funding of the Missouri Humanities Council and is part of “The Divided City” initiative, a joint project of Washington University’s Center for the Humanities and the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design. “The Divided City” is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

A scene from "Whose Streets"

A scene from “Whose Streets”

“Mean Streets” programming includes local, national and international components that deal with race and ethnicity. Highlights include locally relevant films about the 1917 East St. Louis race riot, North St. Louis and Ferguson (“Never Been a Time,” “For Ahkeem” and “Whose Streets”), national films that deal with policing (“Marvin Booker Was Murdered,” “Blood Is at the Doorstep,” “True Conviction” and a 50th anniversary screening of “In the Heat of the Night”), protest movements (“Copwatch” and “The Streets of Greenwood”), and racial divides in black working-class communities (“Priced Out,” “Street Fighting Men” and “Nat Bates for Mayor”). “Mean Streets” also includes international perspectives that look at the yearning for reconciliation in the West Bank (“The Field”) and the effort to help girls find their voices through poetry in an orphanage in Honduras (“Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World”).

All programs are free and open to the public. For descriptions of the films, visit the SLIFF website:

For more information, contact Brian Woodman, Curator of Film & Media Archive, at (314) 935-3301 or


Nov. 4 at Washington University’s Brown Auditorium

1 p.m.: “Priced Out,” with director Cornelius Swart

Washington University facilitators: Jasmine Mahmoud, postdoctoral fellow in inequality and identity in American Culture Studies; Kedron Thomas, assistant professor of anthropology, and Peter Benson, associate professor of anthropology

Nov. 5 at Brown Auditorium

1 p.m.: “Copwatch,” with subject David Whitt

Washington University facilitator: Rhaisa Williams, postdoctoral fellow, Performing Arts Department

4 p.m.: “True Conviction,” with subject Christopher Scott

Washington University facilitator: Antoinette (Annie) Grier, project manager, Smart Decarceration Initiative, Center for Social Development, George Warren Brown School of Social Work

7:30 p.m.: “Never Been a Time” with director Denise Ward-Brown

Facilitator: Harper Barnes, author of “Never Been a Time: The 1917 Race Riot That Sparked the Civil Rights Movement”

Nov. 10 at Missouri History Museum

7 p.m.: “Marvin Booker Was Murdered,” with director Wade Gardner and members of the Booker family and civil rights attorney Mari Newman

Washington University facilitator: Kristine Helbling, First Year Experience librarian and English and American literature and women, gender, and sexuality studies librarian, University Libraries

Nov. 11 at Missouri History Museum

1 p.m.: “Nat Bates for Mayor,” with co-directors Bradley Berman and Eric Weiss

Washington University facilitator: Leah Merrifield, associate vice chancellor for community engagement and St. Louis college-readiness initiatives

3:30 p.m.: “Street Fighting Men,” with director Andrew James

Washington University facilitator: Brian Woodman, curator of Film & Media Archive, University Libraries

7 p.m.: “For Akheem,” with producer Jeff Truesdell, co-directors Jeremy Levine and Landon Van Soest, and subject Daje Shelton

Nov. 12 at Missouri History Museum

2 p.m.: “The Blood Is at the Doorstep,” with director Erik Ljung

Washington University facilitator: Tila Neguse, coordinator of the Divided City Initiative, Center for the Humanities

6 p.m.: “Whose Streets,” with co-director Damon Davis, co-producer Chris Renteria and subjects

Washington University facilitator: Vernon C. Mitchell, curator of popular American arts and culture, University Libraries

Nov. 12 at Washington University’s Brown Auditorium

1 p.m.: “Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World,” with director Bradley Coley

Washington University faculty facilitator: Bob Hansman, associate professor in the Sam Fox School’s College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design

4 p.m.: “The Field,” with director Mordechai Vardi

Washington University faculty facilitator: Sunita Parikh, associate professor of political science

Nov. 12 at St. Louis Public Library

1:30 p.m.: “In the Heat of the Night” (with “The Streets of Greenwood”), with Novotny Lawrence, associate professor of race, media, and popular culture, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

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