Saturday, September 20, 3 pm
Public Enemy, 1999, 87 min
Dir. Jens Meurer
How did an organization labeled “public enemy number one” by the FBI produce some of America’s most exemplary citizens? Public Enemy flows with a calm that corresponds with the grace and repose emanating from its mature subjects, occassionally interrupted with rapid bursts of archival footage from their revolutionary pasts. The film catches up with four Black Panthers who have lived extraordinary lives through the fire of government repression: Kathleen Cleaver, Jamal Joseph, Nile Rodgers, and Bobby Seale.
4:30 pm, A Conversation with Nile Rodgers and Jamal Joseph.
Most know Nile Rodgers as one of the most influential producers in the history of popular music but few know of his involvement with the New York chapter of The Black Panther Party. Rodgers has managed to infuse his progressive political vision into global popular consciousness through a career of making hits such as Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”. As a part of the disco/R&B group Chic, Rodgers arranged and performed the hit “Good Times” which had a second life as a breakbeat in early hip hop (listen to Sugar Hill Gang’s Rappers Delight). Rodgers and producing partner Bernard Edward produced Madonna’s breakthrough album Like A Virgin, David Bowie’s best selling album Let’s Dance and Duran Duran’s Notorious. Rodgers has gone on to found Sumthing music, the largest African-American owned independent music label distribution company in America.
Jamal Joseph joined the Harlem office of the Black Panther Party as a teenager. As a member of the Panther 21, he faced charges of conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens among other sites for which all were ultimately acquitted. While serving time in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth for harboring a fugitive, Joseph earned two college degrees, started a theater group and wrote his first play. Joseph went on to become a distinguished educator, director and poet and is currently the chair of the film division of Columbia University’s art department. Joseph has remained committed to community development as co-founder of IMPACT, a non-profit performing arts group for teenagers and young adults. Not to be outdone by his friend Nile, Joseph recieved an Oscar nomination for best original song with “Raise It Up”, performed by IMPACT, from the soundtrack August Rush.
Maysles Cinema is a nonprofit theater dedicated to the presentation of documentary film and video. Located at 343 Malcolm X Blvd/Lenox Avenue, between 127th and 128th Streets.