Black History Month at the Belcourt

The Belcourt Theater is planning some extensive and impressive programs for Black History Month. Many of them are free, starting with the initial offering this Saturday.

Barry Jenkins rocketed to fame and glory with “Moonlight,” a brilliantly acted and filmed production that blended a coming-of-age story with a cinematic chronicle of the impact of addiction and alienation inside a Miami neighborhood. It also examined three pivotal periods in a young man’s life. “Moonlight eventually earned eight Oscar nominations, and won the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) awards.

Saturday’s screening begins at 9 a.m. and is part of the “Insider/Outsider” course led by Claudine Taaffe and Terrance Dean. It’s also part of Vanderbilt’s African American & Diaspora Studies.  t=The course is an intensive and interdisciplinary engagement with the history, culture and politics of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities during both the 20th and 21st centuries,

It’s the 30-year anniversary of Spike Lee’s rousing “Do The Right Thing,” which was an Oscar nominee and harbinger of Lee’s emergence as a vital and mighty force within the film community. It will be celebrated on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Belcourt in a program co-presented with Slim & Husky’s Pizza Beeria. Anyone purchasing a ticket can also add a Slim & Husky’s pizza and they will also be available in the lobby prior to the film.

A post-screening discussion will be held on community building and youth empowerment with musical artist Tim Gent; educator, artist and consultant Melissa Gordon; community organizer Gicola Lane; and artist and neighborhood curator Thaxton Waters; moderated by artist advocate Brian Sexton. The film begins at 8:15 p.m.

Jazz will be the focal point of three films during the Belcourt’s Music City Monday series in February. Two of them, plus a fourth film devoted to another Black music great, are part of Black History Month activities. The series begins Monday, Feb. 4 with the gangster/crime epic and swing era tribute work “Kansas City.” Robert Altman’s 1996 film stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Harry Belafonte and also included acting appearances by a host of contemporary jazz greats.

“Miles Ahead” on Feb. 18 features Don Cheadle portraying Miles Davis in a film that wasn’t so much a biopic as a character sketch.

On Feb. 25 “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” chronicles one of the final public performances by Jimi Hendrix, backed by Nashville’s own Billy Cox on bass and drummer Mitch Mitchell. They were headlining at the second annual Atlanta International Pop Festival. This film includes newly rediscovered footage, and also catches Hendrix at a pivotal point in his career. All these films have 7:30 start times.

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