The revealing mirrors of 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: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television” —presented as part of the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) Nov. 3-13 — includes screenings of narrative and documentary works that address the strong intersections between racial divisions and urban spaces. These 15 programs comprising 22 films 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 a collaboration among Cinema St. Louis, Washington University Libraries, the Missouri History Museum, and Washington University’s Sam Fox School’s College of Architecture, with the participation of faculty from many Washington University programs and departments, including American Culture Studies, African and African-American Studies, Performing Arts, Political Science, History, and German and Jewish Studies.
“Mean Streets” 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 and Urban Design. “The Divided City” is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
With additional support from Washington University’s American Culture Studies program, “Mean Streets” also includes four filmmaking workshops to allow budding and experienced filmmakers to engage with professional media makers around issues of filmmaking process.
All programs are free and open to the public.
“Mean Streets” programming includes local, national, and international components. Locally relevant films include the double bill of “More Than One Thing” and “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” (both dealing with St. Louis’ notorious Pruitt-Igoe housing development), director Jun Bae’s double feature of “Bob’s Tour” and “Exodus” (both dealing with the current state of North St. Louis), “Gentlemen of Vision” (about North County’s competitive “stepping” team), and a program of Ferguson shorts.
National programming includes films dealing with racial divides in large cities, such as Camden, N.J. (“Camden: Love/Hate”), problems of violence and racism in Chicago (“Chi-Raq,” the Kartemquin shorts program), mass incarceration in one majority African American ZIP code in Milwaukee (“Milwaukee 53206”), the struggle of adults to earn their high school degrees in a low income area of Indianapolis (“Night School”), and the struggle of an African American laborer to keep himself and his family alive in the Los Angeles enclave of Watts (“Killer of Sheep”).
The national coverage also examines racial fissures in smaller communities, such as a Georgia county rocked by the murder of a young African Americanman by an elderly white man (“Southern Rites”), the rupture of a small North Carolina town after high school basketball star Allen Iverson was jailed for alleged involvement in a physical altercation with local white residents (“No Crossover”), and the intersection of civil rights and blues music in small segregated Southern communities during 1964’s Freedom Summer (“Two Trains Runnin’”). Finally, “Mean Streets” includes two films from an international perspective, “The Peacemaker” and “Bogdan’s Journey,” which focus on religious and ethnic divides and the difficult search for common ground.
The “Mean Streets” program includes such significant filmmaking names as Charles Burnett, director of “Killer of Sheep” and one of the influential figures in the “L.A. Rebellion” of independent African American filmmakers; Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James, known for “No Crossover” (screening as part of “Mean Streets”), “Hoop Dreams,” and “The Interrupters”; Gillian Laub, respected international photographer and director of “Southern Rites”; and Gordon Quinn, founder of the influential social justice media collaborative Kartemquin Films. In addition, these screenings will include important national commentators, such as independent media advocate Angelica Das from American University.
‘MEAN STREETS’ SCHEDULE
Nov. 5 at Washington University’s Brown Auditorium
1 p.m.: “Night School,” Skype discussion with director Andrew Cohn
Faculty facilitator: Garrett Albert Duncan, WU Associate Professor of Education and Associate Professor of African & African-American Studies
4 p.m.: “Bob’s Tour” (with “Exodus”) with subject Bob Hansman, Jovan Hansman, and director Jun Bae
Faculty facilitators: Heidi Kolk, Acting Director of WU’s American Culture Studies; John Early, Lecturer, WU’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
7:30 p.m.: “The Peacemaker” with subject Padraig O’Malley and director James Demo
Faculty facilitator: Sunita Parikh, WU Associate Professor of Political Science
Nov. 6 at Washington U./Brown
Noon: “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” (with “More Than One Thing”) with former Pruitt-Igoe residents Billy Towns, Tommie Towns, and Sylvester Brown, and Brian Woodman, Producer for “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” and Curator of the WU Film & Media Archive
3:30 p.m. Doc Shorts: Kartemquin Films’ Gordon Quinn with director/Kartemquin founder Gordon Quinn
Faculty facilitator: Angelica Das, American University
7 p.m.: “No Crossover” with director Steve James
Faculty facilitators: Noah Cohan, Lecturer, American Culture Studies; Vernon Mitchell, Curator of Popular American Arts, WU Libraries
Nov. 6 at St. Louis Public Library
1:30 p.m.: “Killer of Sheep” with director Charles Burnett
Faculty facilitator: Rebecca Wanzo, Associate Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Associate Director of the Center for the Humanities at Washington University
Nov. 10 at Ritenour Auditorium
7:30 p.m.: “Gentlemen of Vision” with directors Frank Popper & Jim Kircherr, subject Marlon Wharton, and a performance by GOV.
Faculty facilitator: Joanna Dee Das, WU Assistant Professor of Dance
Nov. 11 at Missouri History Museum
7 p.m.: “Chi-Raq” with screenwriter Kevin Willmott
Faculty facilitator: Novotny Lawrence, Associate Professor and Chair, Radio, Television, and Digital Media Department, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Nov. 12 at Missouri History Museum
Noon: “Southern Rites” with director Gillian Laub
Faculty facilitator: Lerone Martin, WU Assistant Professor of Religion and Politics
3 p.m.: “Camden: Love/Hate” with director Daniel Meirom and subject Kimel Hadden
Faculty facilitator: Denise Ward-Brown, WU Associate Professor, Sam Fox School
7 p.m.: Doc Shorts: Black Lives Matter
Nov. 13 at Missouri History Museum
Noon: “Milwaukee 53206” (with “I, Destini”) with director Keith McQuirter
Faculty facilitator: Margaret Garb, Professor of History and Co-Director of the Washington University Prison Education Program
3 p.m.: “Bogdan’s Journey” with director Larry Loewinger
Faculty facilitator: Erin McGlothlin, WU Associate Professor of German and Jewish Studies
6 p.m.: “Two Trains Runnin’” with Jacqueline Dace, National Blues Museum
Faculty facilitator: Paige McGinley, WU Assistant Professor of Performing Arts
Nov. 5 at Washington University West Campus Library Conference Room A/B:
A series of filmmaking workshops in issues such as fair use (with filmmakers Diane Carson and Robert Johnson, Jr.), using archival material in film (with producer and Curator of the Washington University Libraries’ Film & Media Archive, Brian Woodman), and editing technique (with director Robert Greene)
Nov. 12 at Washington University West Campus Library Conference Room A/B:
Screenwriting Master Class with “Chi-Raq” screenwriter Kevin Willmott