Stanley Nelson: The Art of Making People Think

NEW YORK – For three decades, Stanley Nelson’s documentaries have made audiences sit up and take notice. With interviews, photographic stills, and found footage, the filmmaker’s eloquent works combine historical research and current issues to provide a uniquely intelligent perspective.

Nelson’s well-researched and balanced films are informative as well as entertaining, dealing with issues from past and present African-American history and shedding light on current events.

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords. 1998. USA. Produced, written, and directed by Stanley Nelson.

An engaging film on the history of African-American newspapers, highlighting a largely forgotten chapter in American history. These pioneering newspapermen and women gave voice to Black America, facilitating the post–World War I migration north, and honoring such heroic figures as the Black soldiers of World War II. Narrated by Joe Morton. 90 min. Monday, Feb. 10, 6:00; Thursday, Feb. 20, 4:15

Two Dollars and a Dream: The Story of Madame C. J. Walker and A’lelia Walker. 1988. USA. Produced, written, and directed by Stanley Nelson.

A film about the cosmetics queen who was the country’s first self-made female millionaire.

The child of slaves freed by the Civil War, Madame C. J. Walker and her daughter A’lelia, an important patron of the Harlem Renaissance, lived in royal style. The film ties together social, political, and economic history, offering a well-rounded view of African American life from 1867 through the 1930s. 50 min. Monday, Feb. 17, 6:00

Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind. 2001. USA. Produced, written, and directed by Stanley Nelson.

An unsparing examination of the black visionary who preceded Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Using a wealth of archival film, photographs, and other documents, the story of this Jamaican immigrant who built the first black mass-movement in world history is uncovered. Nelson explores Garvey’s dramatic successes and failures before falling into obscurity – after providing a newfound sense of pride to hundreds of thousands of men and women. 90 min. Monday, Feb. 17, 7:30

The Murder of Emmett Till. 2002. USA. Produced, written, and directed by Stanley Nelson.

The murder of Emmett Till in 1955 deeply affected a broad spectrum of Americans – black and white, northern and southern – and opened a window on the vast divide in American society. With incisive and deeply moving interviews with Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, whose decision to leave the casket open to display her son’s horribly mangled body shocked America out of its complacency. The film contends that the murder was a watershed in the development of the nascent movement for civil rights. 50 min. Introduced by the filmmaker, with Q&A following the screening. Thursday, Feb. 20, 8:00

– Carolyn Rummel