HYDE PARK — A film festival in support of Hyde Park’s neighborhood newspaper will showcase next week how the community’s rich culture has been reflected in movies and TV shows.
Doors open 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Experimental Station’s outdoor courtyard, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Screenings begin 8 p.m.
An audience discussion will follow the festival, providing an outlet for residents to “talk about what memories the films might have stirred in them, or thoughts [the festival] might have stirred about the neighborhood,” said Morley Musick, the film festival’s editor and a Herald reporter.
“Part of the point of the film festival, in gathering so many disparate materials together, is to ask what makes this neighborhood unique,” Musick said.
A majority of the selected films were suggested by members of the Hyde Park Classics Facebook group, Musick said. Neighbors shared the community’s ties to films dating from the 1950s up to last year’s “The Trial of the Chicago 7.”
Among their knowledge drops: University of Chicago graduate Tamar Simon Hoffs co-wrote and produced “Stony Island,” a 1978 tale of musicians on the rise whose success allowed the fictional band to begin playing shows in real life.
Hoffs’ father is Congregation Rodfei Zedek Rabbi Ralph Simon, who served as president of the Hyde Park and Kenwood Interfaith Council.
The 1959 essay film “The Cry of Jazz,” archived in the Library of Congress, made waves for its Black empowerment themes. Early in the film, one character argues Black people were “the only [ones] with the necessary musical and human history to create jazz.”
An all-Black production team, including UChicago graduates and a Chicago city planner, filmed scenes of the fictional jazz club that drives the films’ debates at a home at 51st Street and Greenwood Avenue, according to the University of Chicago Magazine. They’re blended with shots of South Side life and performances by the Sun Ra Arkestra.
Hyde Park “has a rich jazz history that intersects with its racial history, and that has inflected the films that have been made there,” Musick said.
If Hyde Park On Screen draws enough interest, the Herald hopes to do another screening as it pushes toward becoming a “community anchor” and social center in addition to a newspaper, Musick said. Attendees can register for a waitlist through Eventbrite to be alerted for future screenings.
“I’m personally curious in what role neighborhood papers can play in helping to be one of the institutions that sort of re-glue neighborhoods together,” Musick said. “I’m considering this kind of an experiment in that role.”
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