Celebration of African American Cinema Series

Denzel Washington directs and stars in a new film based on a play by the late, great August Wilson. Fences is one of ten plays of Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Pittsburg Cycle (including Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.) Washington and Davis reprise their Broadway roles as Troy and Rose, a couple trying to get by and navigate the 1950’s color line. Troy is a sanitation worker who forbids his son (Jovan Adepo) to play high school football – wanting him to avoid the disappointment that he experience when his dreams were crushed by racism. Viola Davis won a Supporting Actress Award, for her staggering performance.

“Her fury will go down as one of the profound moments in this year’s cinema, a scene that will be played over and over, and marveled at for years to come.” Mick La Salle, San Francisco Chronicle.

Harriet Tubman, who escaped from a Maryland slave plantation to become a leader of the Underground Railroad, is a true American hero. It’s taken way too long to get her story on the screen, but we’ll celebrate that is finally here to inspire us with Tubman’s battle against unspeakable oppression. British singer Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet with an otherworldly dedication, as she leaves freedom in Philadelphia 13 times or more to bring her family and other enslaved African Americans to safety. The cast also includes Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures) as a born-to-freedom Philadelphian, Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr in Hamilton) as an abolitionist, and Clarke Peters (The Wire) as Harriet’s father, who has lived through much more than we dare to imagine.

“It’s as if Tubman walks among us, melting away the years between her life and ours. The directness of Erivo’s gaze is the ultimate challenge.” Stephanie Zacharek, Time. 

All Series