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Rare Screening of Oscar Micheaux’s Groundbreaking Silent Film ‘Body and Soul’ w/ New Music Score

Rare Screening of Oscar Micheaux’s Groundbreaking Silent Film 'Body and Soul' w/ New Music Score

Oscar Micheaux’s
1925 film “Body and Soul” was one the first 12 films that he made, from his start as a director, in 1919  though it’s only
one of three from that period for which a print still exists. It is
the film that firmly established what could be called the “Micheaux style,” and a seminal film in the history and advancement of black cinema.

Starring a
young Paul Robeson is his very first film role, the “Body & Soul” is an odd mix, with melodrama
and soap opera, while also being a scathing indictment of the hypocrisy of the black
church. In the film, Robeson plays an escaped prisoner who passes himself off as a preacher
to swindle the population, until a woman, who he previously sexually assaulted,
reveals him for the fraud that he is, in
front of the entire congregation.

Actually, that’s one version of the film. In the original version, Robeson’s con man preacher
has a twin brother who is in love with one of his brother’s victims. Micheaux was
forced to re-edit the film when the New York film censorship board refused to approve
it for theatrical showings, claiming that the film would “tend to
incite to crime” and was “immoral” and “sacrilegious”.

However, the film has
survived; and a rare screening of a newly restored print of it, will take place in Chicago at the Museum
of Contemporary Art, on Sunday
April 26th.

The day-long
event will start at 1PM, with a panel, with flutist/composer Nicole Mitchell,
violinist/composer Renée Baker, media artist Ulysses Jenkins, film scholar and
University of Chicago professor Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, and film producer
Don DiNicola, all of whom “who will discuss historical and current intersections of music,
media, and social practice”.

At 3PM, Ulysses
Jenkins will introduce selections from his works, including “Cake Walk”, “Two
Zone Transfer”, and “Secrecy: Help Me to Understand,” which will be followed at 4:30PM with a screening of new restored
print of “Body and Soul,” with a new score written by Renee Baker.

And even
better, the entire event is FREE to the public; but you must reserve a seat online, which
you can do right HERE.

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