Documentary week at the M.V. Film Center ends this Friday, August 6, with two important film shorts about the role of clothing in two disparate cultures. In addition, three excellent films from the week will return in the future. They include “Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer,” “Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation” and “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It.”
On Friday, August 6, “RIP T-Shirts,” by directors Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, addresses gun violence through a T-shirt maker who experiences an uptick in the T-shirts he makes that pay tribute to murdered Black individuals. “King Philip’s Belt: A Story of Wampum,” directed by Fermín Rojas, describes the importance of wampum to Wampanoag culture and the search for a missing wampum belt that belonged to King Phillip. The three directors will participate in a discussion following the two films.
“Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer”
This documentary, directed by Dawn Porter, begins with the excavation last year at Tulsa’s Oaklawn Cemetery, attended by community activists and descendants, to uncover unmarked graves of those Black individuals killed in the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. At the time, fires, looting, and the destruction of buildings were perpetrated by whites in one of the most prosperous Black communities in America at the time.
The incident began when 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a shoe shiner, was arrested for reputedly assaulting a 17-year-old white girl named Sarah Page, an elevator operator. A mob gathered outside the jail, threatening to lynch Rowland. He was defended by Blacks and the massacre began. It is estimated that 300 Blacks were killed, 122 arrested, and 12 sentenced to death. The goal of “Rise Again” is to retrieve the history of a repressed and forgotten event — not just for Blacks, but for all Americans.
“Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation”
In yet another fascinating documentary, the relationship between Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams is explored through their friendship. Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, “Truman and Tennessee” describes the writing of these two celebrated Southern authors, their use of autobiography, and their views on homosexuality and alcoholism.
They discussed and disliked the films made from their novels or plays. Capote was, for instance, unhappy with the selection of Audrey Hepburn instead of Marilyn Monroe for the film version of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Also described is the rivalry between the two writers. Archival information, film clips and voiceovers comment on the lives and rivalry between the two, as well as interviews with Dick Cavett.
“Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”
This delightful documentary covers the life of Latina movie star Rita Moreno. No other Latina star has earned the quadruple awards of Oscar, Emmy, Tony, and Grammy. TV producer Norman Lear says in the film, “I can’t think of anybody who lived the dream more.” President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to the arts. She is probably best known for her Oscar-winning performance in “West Side Story.”
Born in Puerto Rico, she came to the U.S. with her mother as a child. Moreno began her career as a dancer and quickly moved into acting in Hollywood, but was frustrated by her constant portrayal as a Hispanic with an accent. An example is her appearance in “Carmen Miranda: Bananas is My Business.” She also appeared in “Singin’ in the Rain,” and, more recently, “In the Heights.” She was well known for her seven-year affair with Marlon Brando.
These three documentaries will screen again at times to be announced.
For information about Documentary Week and other films screening at the Film Center, visit mvfilmsociety.com.