Film Screening | PASSING THROUGH
MoAD presents a four-week film series in conjunction with Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite, a photographic exhibition focussing on how the Black Pride movement manifested in fashion and in jazz & soul music. Dr. Tanisha C. Ford writes in the catalogue, “Jazz set the rhythm for all of Brathwaites’s work… he is a son of the modern Jazz age.” The Black Power & Jazz film series complements the exhibition with works on representative and still influential icons of the era — from the widely celebrated performer Abbey Lincoln to the community-based California Jazz musician Horace Tapscott — as well as touching on the era’s “L.A. Rebellion” independent film movement.
PASSING THROUGH (Larry Clark, 1977, 115 minutes).
This narrative feature film shot in Los Angeles tells the story of a jazz musician who struggles against music industry pressure in order to remain authentic with his art. Eddie Warmack, an African American jazz musician, is released from prison for the killing of a white gangster. Not willing to play for the mobsters who control the music industry, including clubs and recording studios, Warmack searches for his mentor and grandfather, the legendary jazz musician Poppa Harris. Director Larry Clark theorizes that jazz is one of the purest expressions of African American culture, embodying the struggles of generations of Blacks going back to slavery times, but now hijacked by a white culture that brutally exploits jazz musicians for profit. Filmmaker Larry Clark will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion.
Larry Clark is a filmmaker and former professor of film at San Francisco State University. Born in Ohio (where he was president of the Black Student Union at Miami University), he later drove to Los Angeles to enroll in the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. With musical roots (his uncle was renowned jazz pianist Sonny Clark; his mailman father played sax and taught Latin dance, and his housekeeper mother sang opera), it’s fitting that his first feature, Passing Through (1977), is often cited as one of the best jazz films ever made. Featuring Horace Tapscott and his Pan-Afrikan People’s Jazz Arkestra and co-written by actor Ted Lange, it united a wide range of black artists. It had its world premiere at Los Angeles’ Filmex and went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the Locarno International Film Festival.
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non- profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.calhum.org.