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Film Series

BAMcinématek and The Racial Imaginary Institute: On Whiteness

 
 
Jul 11—Jul 19, 2018
 
   
 
 
 
 
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Part of BAMcinématek

“If whiteness gains currency by being unnoticed, then what does it mean to notice whiteness?”
—Sara Ahmed

Despite being a powerful social and political force, whiteness has often been treated as a neutral, rather than racialized, identity. Presented in collaboration with Claudia Rankine’s The Racial Imaginary Institute, this series explores how whiteness has been deliberately and subconsciously constructed, ignored, and challenged in the history of American film. In bringing together a diverse array of works that touch on issues of ethnic identity, assimilation, racial grievance, passing, and privilege, On Whiteness aims to foster a dialogue about what it means to be white in America.


 
ILLUSIONS
Film
Illusions + Free, White and 21
Wed, Jul 11, 2018
 
Illusions + Free, White and 21
Wed, Jul 11, 2018
 

Two black women directors—Julie Dash (Daughters of the Dust) and multimedia artist Howardena Pindell—offer powerful critiques of racial mythologies and the limitations of white feminism.

+ Post-screening discussion about the series
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Pinky
Film
Pinky
Wed, Jul 11, 2018
 
Pinky
Wed, Jul 11, 2018
 

One of Hollywood’s earliest attempts to grapple with racism in America, Elia Kazan’s controversial 1940 melodrama paradoxically casts a white actress in the role of a light-skinned black woman passing as white.

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Gran Torino
Film
Gran Torino
Thu, Jul 12, 2018
 
Gran Torino
Thu, Jul 12, 2018
 

Clint Eastwood explores his own legacy as an emblem of rugged, white American masculinity, casting himself as a racist Korean War vet coming to terms with an increasingly multicultural society.

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The Swimmer
Film
The Swimmer
Thu, Jul 12, 2018
 
The Swimmer
Thu, Jul 12, 2018
 

Burt Lancaster (in a bare-it-all performance) stars in this enigmatic cult favorite, an unsettling vision of middle-age, middle-class, white suburban ennui.

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taxi driver
Film
Taxi Driver
Fri, Jul 13, 2018
 
Taxi Driver
Fri, Jul 13, 2018
 

In Travis Bickle—the unhinged cabbie on a crusade to “wash all the scum off the streets” of 70s New York—Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro created a chilling portrait of white rage in the post-Nixon-era.

+ Introduction by series programmer Ashley Clark
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Stallon Running
Film
Rocky
Fri, Jul 13, 2018
 
Rocky
Fri, Jul 13, 2018
 

In its portrayal of a white working-class everyman going up against a black opponent, Sylvester Stallone’s mega-hit Best Picture created a cinematic folk hero for white America in the age of Black Power.

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Ferris Bueller
Film
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 

John Hughes’ iconic 80s comedy gave a generation of suburban teens a role model for upper middle-class “cool,” and serves as a foundational text of Reagan-era (and beyond) white male privilege.

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White Chicks
Film
White Chicks
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 
White Chicks
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 

Though critically maligned upon its release, this oddball whiteface farce from the Wayans brothers deserves a second look for the way it plays daringly with the stereotypes of early 2000s whiteness.

+ Intro by Racquel Gates, Assistant Professor of Cinema & Media Studies at the College of Staten Island, CUNY
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Jerk
Film
The Jerk
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 
The Jerk
Sat, Jul 14, 2018
 

“I was born a poor black child,” announces Steve Martin in the first line of this classic, very much of its era, but commendably risky comic take on Southern racial mores.

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Shadows
Film
Shadows
Sun, Jul 15, 2018
 
Shadows
Sun, Jul 15, 2018
 

A landmark of American independent cinema, John Cassavetes’ live-wire directorial debut—about the experiences of three black siblings in 1950s Manhattan—comes with a complicated racial legacy.

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Quentin
Film
Pulp Fiction
Sun, Jul 15, 2018
 
Pulp Fiction
Sun, Jul 15, 2018
 

Quentin Tarantino’s endlessly quotable instant classic is both compulsively entertaining as well as the epitome of the director’s controversial appropriation of “black cool.”

+ Intro by Steven Thrasher, journalist and doctoral candidate in American Studies, NYU
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Summer Of Sam
Film
Summer of Sam
Mon, Jul 16, 2018
 
Summer of Sam
Mon, Jul 16, 2018
 

Spike Lee’s true-crime drama—about a wave of murders that rocked an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx in 1977—is the rare film by a major black director to capture a white ethnic milieu.

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The Virgin Suicides
Film
The Virgin Suicides
Tue, Jul 17, 2018
 
The Virgin Suicides
Tue, Jul 17, 2018
 

With sun-kissed, faded-Polaroid visuals and a spaced-out soundtrack by Air, Sofia Coppola’s 1970s-set dream vision of white teenage girlhood evokes the bottomless melancholy of suburban adolescent alienation.

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White Material
Film
White Material
Tue, Jul 17, 2018
 
White Material
Tue, Jul 17, 2018
 

A mesmerizing Isabelle Huppert stars as a stubbornly deluded white woman living in Africa amid encroaching civil war in Claire Denis’ searing exploration of colonialism’s legacy.

+ Intro by Tavia Nyong'o, critic, historian, and professor of American Studies at Yale University
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Godfather 2
Film
The Godfather: Part II
Wed, Jul 18, 2018
 
The Godfather: Part II
Wed, Jul 18, 2018
 

Coppola’s epic immigrant’s tale charts the assimilation of a Sicilian-American crime family over the course of generations, highlighting the complex ethnic divisions within whiteness.

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Get Out
Film
Get Out
Thu, Jul 19, 2018
 
Get Out
Thu, Jul 19, 2018
 

Jordan Peele’s daringly subversive, instantly iconic satire lays bare the horrors of white liberal hypocrisy and the persistent myth of virtuous white womanhood.

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