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film still from The Cry of Jazz, showing a musician playing an instrument, possibly a trumpet

MMoCA Cinema | Winter Matinee

December 4, 2022

12:00 pm – 2:30 pm

FREE Admission

Please join us for MMoCA Cinema, a special afternoon matinee featuring two films recommended by artist Faisal Abdu’Allah, whose exhibition DARK MATTER is now on view in the Main Galleries. The screenings on Sunday, December 4, take place on the final day of Art & Gift Fair: Weekends at MMoCA, so you catch both the movies and take care of some gift shopping all in one place.

Both MMoCA Cinema films—one short and one feature-length—were completed in 1959, and each has a distinct take on the issue of race relations during that era. First up, at noon, will be a short film titled, The Cry of Jazz (1959). Directed by American musician and composer Edward O. Bland, The Cry of Jazz demonstrates the imaginative power of Black intellectuals and artists in the Civil Rights era.

At 1 PM, we’ll screen the feature-length film Sapphire (1959), directed by UK filmmaker Basil Dearden. A police drama set in the diverse neighborhoods of London, Sapphire explores race and class in England in the 1950s.


Ticket Information

  • Free admission.
  • No reservations required. Seats are first-come, first-served.

Film Descriptions

film still from The Cry of Jazz, showing a musician playing an instrument, possibly a trumpet
Film still from The Cry of Jazz (1959) directed by Edward Bland. © Deep in the Pocket.

The Cry of Jazz

Edward O. Bland | USA | 1959 | 34 minutes

Musician and composer Edward O. Bland completed only one film, The Cry of Jazz, but scholar Chuck Kleinhans describes it as “a remarkable and unique film that demonstrates the imaginative power of black intellectuals and artists in the Civil Rights Era . . . the film uses dramatic dialogue, direct address argumentation, realist documentary illustration, an innovative music soundtrack, and essayistic construction to argue for jazz music as an expression of the situation of black Americans. Seeing jazz as both empowering and limiting, the film is an acute and even painful statement of its political, social, cultural, and artistic moment.” The film provoked controversy with its thesis that “jazz was dead,” but The Observer’s Kenneth Tynan wrote, “it is the first film in which the American Negro has issued a direct challenge to the white, claiming not merely equality but superiority.”

The musicians performing in the film include Le Sun Ra & his Arkestra, which features John Gilmour, Julian Priester, and Marshall Allen. The Cry of Jazz was inducted into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 2010.

Film still from the 1959 film Sapphire showing a woman hugging and leaning her head on an older man while another man looks at them or to the left of the still. They are all wearing blazers.
Film still from Sapphire (1959) directed by Basil Dearden. Images Courtesy of Park Circus/ITV studios International Distribution.

Sapphire

Basil Dearden | UK | 1959 | 93 minutes

A young woman is found dead in a public park. Police Superintendent Robert Hazard (Nigel Patrick) discovers that her murder may have been racially motivated. Basil Dearden’s Sapphire is both a solid police procedural as well as an exploration of race and class in England in the 1950s. The film is notable for its distinct color cinematography and location shooting in London’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods, like Notting Hill, not often seen in mainstream films at the time.