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Black Heritage Month: celebrating Black cinema's cult classics at Blue Sunshine


Blue Sunshine
, Montreal’s “psychotropic film centre,” is known for its dedication to screening cult classics, B-movies and music films. Whether it’s a cult flick of kung-fu kicking, karate chopping black heroes determined to foil the conspiracies of white supremacists (Three the Hard Way), the little-known and tumultuous tale of a tough Black sheriff in a racist southern town (Tick …Tick …Tick), or a recent documentary chronicling the cultural influence of a politically aware British DJ, this month’s Black Heritage Month (BHM) Film Series showcases all three, with seminal masterpieces, overlooked gems and new releases of Black cinema.

With seven feature films playing February 11th to 26th, Blue Sunshine is devoting three weekends to screening ball-busting blaxploitation classics and an intriguing documentary you sure as hell can’t see at any other movie theatre in Montreal. Here are a few highlights to mark down on your calendar:

 

COOLEY HIGH
Michael Schultz |
USA | 1975
February 17 at 8:30 p.m. 

 
Chicago, 1962. An ensemble cast of skirt-chasin’, dice-tossin’ friends put the soul in this racially alert and poignant inner-city dramedy from director Michael Schultz (Car Wash) and influential writer Eric Monte (known for TV milestones Good Times and All in the Family). Often referred to as the "Black American Graffiti” for its loose but vibrant plot, Motown soundtrack and nostalgic throwback style that reminisces about those bygone days as carefree teens, this beloved Black cinema classic put an irreverent twist on more exploitative shoot-em-up blaxploitation flicks of the time, and made a mark on popular film history in the process.

 

 

 

SUPERSTONIC SOUND: THE REBEL DREAD
Raphael Erichsen | UK | 2010 
February 24 | 8:30 p.m. 


DJ, filmmaker, Clash videographer and member of groundbreaking, genre-crossing post-punk group Big Audio Dynamite, Don Letts is the legendary Jamaican-British musician whose involvement in the 1970s underground London scene brought together punk and reggae, forever inspiring such famous acts as The Clash (by whom he was featured on the cover of Super Black Market Clash), The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith and even Bob Marley. Superstonic Sound documents Letts’ far-reaching musical, cultural and racial legacy, which mirrors the history of bass in the UK from dub, reggae and punk to '80s pop, hip hop, dubstep and beyond.


 





WATERMELON MAN
Melvin Van Peebles | USA | 1970
February 26 | 8:30 pm

Jeff Gerber (played by Godfrey Cambridge) is a health-conscious, race-ignorant suburban insurance salesman whose care-free and self-indulgent life as an uppity white family man is thrown for a loop when he inexplicably wakes up to find that he’s Black! A shocking, comedic and outrageous social satire from groundbreaking Black filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles, of Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song! fame, this unique film is an example of both the edgy envelope-pushing and historically significant films that make Black cinema a cultural force and the type of fascinatingly obscure film that makes Blue Sunshine such an important local resource for film.

 

Black Heritage Month Film Series
Blue Sunshine | 3660, Saint-Laurent, 3rd floor | blue-sunshine.com

 

 

In the same vein, February has two other screening of equally provocative cinematic Black film showcases. Grindhouse Wednesdays presents its monthly low-budget, high-thrill cult-classic screening with Pam Grier's first ever role, as a foxy, shotgun-wielding vigilante in Coffy. A must-see for Blaxploitation fans, '70s action aficionados and B-movie junkies. February 24th marks the screening of the brazenly-titled and socially adept documentary Black People Have No Power in Canada, by local journalist and former MusiquePlus VJ Malik Shaheed.


 

Grindhouse Wednesdays Presents: COFFY
February 23 at 8 p.m. 
Rialto Theatre | 5723, du Parc


Black People Have No Power in Canada
February 24 | 1 pm – 9 pm
Belgo Building | 372, Sainte-Catherine W., suite 121