In conjuction with its newest exhibition Afrocosmologies: American Reflections, The Wadsworth Atheneum will host its Black Film Weekend featuring five films that celebrate and reflect stories of Black lives on screen. The films are a mix of fiction and non-fiction, from Toni Morrison and Harriet Tubman to two stories based in Jamaica, including the story of the island's national men's soccer team.
Afrocosmologies features more than 100 works of art, from a boxspring-turned-vibrant-3D canvas to intricate quilts and striking sculptures.
"Many of the works in the exhibition are cinematic at some level and have narrative embedded in them," said Frank Mitchell, the exhibit's curator and executive director of The Amistad Center for Arts & Culture. "Being able to translate that into a series of films that are exploring aspects of Black American history and culture is a real treat."
The film series includes two Jamaican films on Friday and Sunday, a nod to Hartford's significant Jamaican population.
"I wanted to be sure to include the best of West Indian cinema in the weekend," said Debbie Gaudet, the museum's film and theater curator.
Sprinter, the series' opening film, weaves growing pains, family conflict and immigration into the story of a Jamaican teenage runner. Its director Storm Saulter will be present at the screening.
One of Afrocosmologies' central themes, spirituality, shows up in To Sleep With Anger, a 1990 film starring Danny Glover.
"It really is all about the tension between urban Black life and Black faith and culture as it moves from parts of the rural south into urban America," Mitchell said, "You see the tension between things that your grandparents and great-grandparents believed and the things that we all believe because we have access to TV and radio and technology, and how we hold onto the things that matter that our grandparents and great-grandparents used to guide them through life."
The Pieces I Am, the autobiographical documentary about the late Toni Morrison, is replete with Black art similar in nature to Afrocosmologies and showcases some of the same artists featured in exhibit. A tour of the exhibit precedes the screening and a conversation with filmmaker and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders will follow. The Wadsworth will also screen Harriet ahead of its November nationwide release at Bow Tie Cinemas.
"Harriet Tubman was a remarkable woman. Everyone should know her story," said Debbie Gaudet, the museum's film and theater curator. "It is powerful and beautiful to watch and really does share her story with us as an audience."
Beyond this weekend, the museum will show two additional films in November.