On September 11-13, an underground group of Tisch-based black filmmakers, The Leagues, will hold its first public film showcase, featuring free screenings of the group’s collective work. Programming will range from the award-winning films of Dee Rees, Shaka King and Frances Bodomo to films screening for the first time.
In the early 1990s at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a small and rebellious group of black students in the Kanbar Department of Film and Television came together to unite their skills and resources in order to tell their own stories on their own terms. In connection to the ostracized Negro League baseball teams, they adopted the moniker The Leagues, and went on to craft unique films reflecting their varied experiences in order to inspire one another, as well as future generations of black NYU film students, to connect under their banner to do the same.
“This showcase illustrates the richness of The Leagues’ history through the rich tapestry of storytelling that these filmmakers wove for the world over the past 20 years,” said showcase producer and founding member James Richards. “With diverse topics, cinematic styles, origins, and complexities, the showcase creates a compelling mosaic of modern black film collected, curated and screened within the community from which the artists sprung - New York University.”
Founded by Rod Gailes OBC and George Stubbs, The Leagues found inspiration from the support of auteur filmmaker and NYU film school instructor and alumnus Spike Lee and the then new Tisch School of the Arts’ dean, Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell. The group then bolstered by the “Black New Wave” of cinema that ensued with a series of films from Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, 1989) Reginald and Warrington Hudlin (House Party, 1990), John Singleton (Boyz In the Hood, 1991), and others that created and enhanced artistic and commercial possibilities for black filmmakers.
The Leagues Film Showcase will highlight the films of the first years of this New York-based movement (1991-1998) and the fresh style of the second generation (1999-2007), culminating in the inventive works of contemporary Leaguers (2008-present). Many of the filmmakers will be available to participate in Q&A sessions about their film careers, including Bodomo (Afronauts), Caran Hartsfield (King), Rod Gailes OBC (Soft Focus), and Ed DuRante (Jake Gets Paid). The early work of cinematographers will also be recognized, including that of Bradford Young (Pariah), Daniel Patterson (Gun Hill Road), and Cybel Martin (Jackie.).
The special opening night event includes six films picked by celebrity NYU faculty including director Kasi Lemmons (Black Nativity, 2013) and editor/producer/director Samuel L. Pollard (Jungle Fever, Slavery by Another Name) that represent the three generations of The Leagues. The Friday night screening focuses on the first and only feature film directed by six members of The Leagues, 6 Things I Never Told You.
The closing night event will be an early career retrospective on League member Shaka King’s work with a screening of his hit feature film Newlyweeds (2013), preceded by his student works Cocoa Loco and Herkimer DuFrayne, 7th Grade Guidance Counselor. Both include talkbacks with respective directors and invited guests and are followed by a reception. A full lineup is listed below. For more information on individual films and times, visit here.