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Strange Victories: Black Soldiers and World War II
November 12, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
BAMcinématek presents a cross section of films that explore the unique experiences of black soldiers who, in racially-segregated units, fought the spread of fascism overseas only to face racism again on home soil. These groundbreaking classics, compelling documentaries, and revisionist action spectacles shine much-needed light on the experience of black soldiers and veterans as the United States continues to struggle today with its legacy of historical, systemic racism.
The series begins with Spike Lee’s Miracle at St. Anna (2008—Nov 10), a necessary corrective that mobilizes familiar tropes of the traditional Hollywood World War II movie to present a powerful story of black infantrymen who fought for a country that saw them as second-class citizens. On a similarly thrilling scale is Anthony Hemingway’s Red Tails (2012—Nov 12) about the Tuskegee Airmen, a legendary African-American fighter pilot unit. Its all-star cast features David Oyelowo, Michael B. Jordan, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. Mark Robson’s Home of the Brave (1949—Nov 14) was among the first studio-era dramas to address the challenges faced by black soldiers, including PTSD, bigotry, and the embedded racism of everyday life. In Otto Preminger’s musical Carmen Jones (1954—Nov 14), starring Dorothy Dandridge (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Harry Belafonte, a very different studio vision of World War II is depicted. Also set on the home front, Norman Jewison’s Best Picture-nominated adaptation of the stage play A Soldier’s Story (1984—Nov 12) featuring a charismatic turn from Denzel Washington.