Starting in January, three free screenings of some amazing art house flicks on race and class are coming to Battery Park City’s community space at 6 River Terrace. Deepen your film savviness and dive into lively discussions following each screening — plus, complimentary popcorn!
Considered one of the “great, great, great American counterculture films of the 1960s,” and easily the most popular film from Robert Downey Sr., “Putney Swope” is a satire that follows a black man who, thanks to tokenism, incidentally ascends to a position of power over a Madison Avenue advertising agency and replaces all the white go-getting staffers with black power activists. At the time of release, “Swope” made quite the impression: Perhaps most memorable was the scathing review from the New York Daily News critic that called it “vicious and vile” and “the most offensive picture I’ve ever seen.” (January 10, 6p)
When John Cassavetes’s drama about an African-American woman who falls in love with a white man hit theaters in 1959, it was called the “best American film about racial relations yet made.” Shot on a shoestring budget ($40,000), the film tells the doomed love story in a sequence of tense closeups, and wound up winning the Critic’s Award at the Cannes Film Festival. (February 7, 6p)
An instant cult classic since its 1972 premiere at the Venice Film Festival, “The Harder They Come” marries what’s been called a “reggae-ghetto aesthetic” with the universal appeal of a drama-packed plot, set to a musical score worthy of attention all on its own. The story is inspired by the life of a Jamaican outlaw, played by Jimmy Cliff (photo above), who moves throughout scattershot scenes and abrupt cuts that somehow hang together. The film’s largely spontaneous method allowed for what the cinematographer best described as “happy accidents.” (March 13, 6p)