Movies of Local People: Kannapolis (H. Lee Waters, 1941) Courtesy David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University  

Film Love at the High, part 3:
Selections from "Civil Rights on Film"

Thursday, March 14, 2019  |  7:00 pm
Hill Auditorium, High Museum of Art
$14.50 admission | free for High Members

On March 14, 2019, Film Love continues its retrospective at the High Museum with selections taken from the 2009 series Civil Rights on Film, curated by Andy Ditzler. These historic films are inspired responses to the challenge of representing segregation and the struggle for black Civil Rights onscreen.

Produced in 1953 by the Georgia Department of Health as a training film for midwives, All My Babies documents the extraordinary working life of Mary Francis Hill Coley, an African American midwife from Albany, Georgia. In the film, Coley assists two different families with their children’s births, and the contrast between these two families is the window through which the film subtly addresses inequality in the rural south during the Jim Crow era. Punctuating the dramatizations of health procedures for women is a remarkable fifteen-minute childbirth sequence. Originally restricted to health professionals and private screenings, All My Babies was nevertheless quickly recognized as both an aesthetic and social landmark in documentary film – a portrait of compassion in a difficult time and place.

During the Great Depression era, North Carolina photographer H. Lee Waters traveled from town to town with his 16mm camera. He took images of local people on the street, then projected them at the town movie theaters, allowing people to see themselves on the big screen. Waters’s films are now an important historical record of the southern locales where he shot. His film of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is an absorbing and moving portrait of people in both the white and African American neighborhoods of this segregated city. Like All My Babies, it was selected for the prestigious National Film Registry at the Library of Congress.

Showing us the daily life of an African-American transgender woman, Nikolai Ursin’s 1965 UCLA student film Behind Every Good Man is a rare pre-Stonewall document of black LGBT life. Like All My Babies, this breezy, compassionate film walks a complex line between documentary and dramatization in its representation of emerging identities and Civil Rights movements.

Movies of Local People: Kannapolis (H. Lee Waters, 1941) 16mm transferred to digital, 35 min
All My Babies (George Stoney, 1952) 16mm, 55 min
Behind Every Good Man (Nikolai Ursin, 1965) 16mm, 8 min

High Museum of Art
1280 Peachtree St NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30309

Selections from "Civil Rights on Film" is a Film Love event. The Film Love series provides access to great but rarely-screened films, especially important works unavailable on consumer video. Through public screenings and events, Film Love preserves the communal viewing experience, provides space for the discussion of film as art, explores diverse forms of projection and viewing, and illuminates connections between the moving image and other art forms. Film Love is curated by Andy Ditzler.

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