The films of Kansas native Gordon Parks will be celebrated with a week-long film series Nov. 4 to 8 at Washburn University. All showings are free and open to the public.
The schedule is:
Monday, Nov. 4, 7 p.m., room 304, Henderson Learning Resources Center. “Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks” (2000). This HBO documentary provides an overview of Parks’s life and multiple careers. Narrated by Denzel Washington, the documentary includes snippets of Parks’s films, a sample of his photographic images, is visual art and music.
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m., room 308, Henderson Learning Resources Center. “The Learning Tree” (1969). Parks wrote, directed and produced this pioneering and autobiographical work which was the first film directed and written by an African American to be released by a major studio. Set and filmed in his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas, the movie illustrates the delicate balance between the races in small town Kansas in the age of Jim Crow. The evening concludes with a discussion of the film led by Tom Averill, Washburn faculty member and novelist.
Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m., room 304, Henderson Learning Resources Center. “Leadbelly” (1976). Parks’s attention to visual detail is showcased in this examination of the life of legendary bluesman Huddie Ledbetter, aka Leadbelly, in 1930s and 1940s Texas. Poverty and racism are foundations for details illustrated through tales of chain gangs and crews in cotton fields.
Thursday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m., room 308, Henderson Learning Resources Center. “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey: 12 Years a Slave” (1984). Parks directed and provided the music for this adaptation of the 1853 book “12 Years a Slave,” which was televised as an American Playhouse presentation. Northup’s antebellum tale is revived in the 2013 film “12 Years a Slave,” featuring Brad Pitt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams and Michael Fassbender. Discussion leader will be Kelly Erby, Washburn history faculty.
Friday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m., Henderson Learning Resources Center. “Shaft!” (1971). With a memorable theme song by Isaac Hays to kick off the action, “Shaft” was a breakthrough film in multiple respects: the first black private eye, the founding film of blaxploitation cinema and Parks’s greatest commercial success.
Leading discussion of the film will be University of Kansas-based filmmaker Kevin Willmott, whose credits include “The Only Good Indian,” “C.S.A.” and “Destination: Planet Negro!”
Saturday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m., room 308, Henderson Learning Resources Center. “Shaft’s Big Score” (1972). John Shaft is back (played again by Richard Roundtree) in this sequel to the hit film, which was the one of the two sequels directed by Parks).
The event is sponsored by the Washburn chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, history honorary society. For more information, call 670-2060.
(Dena Anson, 785-670-1711)