Image: Courtesy of the artist and UCLA Film & Television Archive

A still from I & I: An African Allegory (Ben Caldwell, 1979)

It’s been over fifty years since the 1960s African American film movement began in earnest at UCLA, but what began as a student project, eventually became an important shift (or as The Reader’s J.R. Jones calls it a boundary-pushing “creative renaissance”) in African American filmmaking.

Tonight, L.A. Rebellion—the highly acclaimed, 12-part film series that includes 36 films from that period—makes its Chicago debut at the Logan Center for the Arts. “The whole thing about independent cinema is it’s all completely unique work from a personal standpoint,” said Julia Gibbs, assistant director at the University of Chicago Film Studies Center. “It’s the African American experience from the viewpoint of African Americans.”

Tonight’s screening of the shorts program at 6 p.m. (there will be a second screening of the same shorts on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.) contains three artist-driven films that are experimental in format. All three filmmakers (O. Funmilayo Makarah, Ben Caldwell, and Barbara McCullough) will be present for tonight’s screening only. Jacqueline Stewart, co-curator of L.A. Rebellion at UCLA and Northwestern University Associate Professor of Radio/Television/Film, will host.

Next month, the “granddaddy” of the L.A. Rebellion movement Charles Burnett, who mentored several members, will attend for the May 25 director’s cut screening of his film My Brother’s Wedding. Gibbs said the film was released in the festival circuit in 1983 before Burnett finished it, and after poor reviews, the distributor pulled it out. The screening on the 25 will be the first time My Brother’s Wedding will be shown in its final form.

Film screenings run from April 25 through June 7. All films are shown at 7 p.m. at the following venues: 

Film Studies Center at the University of Chicago/Logan Center for the Arts (916 E. 60th St., 773-702-8596). Tickets are free; reserve your seat at

Block Cinema at Northwestern University/Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Dr., Evanston, 847-491-4000). Free; tickets available at the door.

Conversations at the Edge at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago/Gene Siskel Film Center (164 N. State, 312-846-2600). Ticket prices vary; available at