Spike Lee, Dee Rees to Open Black Culture Movie Marathon at Fondazione Prada

Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage; Neilson Barnard/Getty Images
Spike Lee and Dee Rees

The two filmmakers will participate in a public conversation with artist Theaster Gates, who has curated a marathon of films to accompany his new show, “The Black Image Corporation.”

Milan's Fondazione Prada is kicking off a new film program, beginning with a special event Friday, Sept 21,  featuring a conversation between filmmakers Spike Lee and Dee Rees, artist Theaster Gates and curator Okwui Enwezor. 

Gates has chosen nine films to portray the history of black social, culture and political visions in America over 90 years. 

The movie marathon will begin at 10 a.m. on Sept. 21 and conclude 7 a.m. on Sept. 22, allowing "audiences to immerse themselves in an intense, exceptional cinematographic experience, creating resonances and intersections between visual fragments and aesthetic investigations in different films," according to a statement on the event. 

The films include: Body and Soul (1925) by Oscar Micheaux, Carmen Jones (1954) by Otto Preminger, The Defiant Ones (1958) by Stanley Kramer, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) by Melvin Van Peebles, Killer of Sheep (1977) by Charles Burnett, Do the Right Thing (1989) by Spike Lee, Daughters of the Dust (1991) by Julie Dash, I Am Not Your Negro (2016) by Raoul Peck and Moonlight (2016) by Barry Jenkins.

The marathon event accompanies Gates' new exhibit, "The Black Image Corporation," which opens at the museum Sept 18. The exhibition pulls from the archives of the Johnson Publishing Company, which helped shape contemporary African-American identity. 

John H. Johnson founded his publishing company in 1942, creating monthlies Ebony and Jet, committed to celebrating positive images of black Americans as well as the complex realities they faced in postwar America. The archives include more than 4 million images. 

For this exhibition, Gates focuses on female images taken by two photographers, Moneta Sleet Jr., the first African-American man to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1969, and Isaac Sutton, the chief photographer of Johnson Publishing Company's West Coast Bureau. 

“I hope to tease out the creation of female iconic moments by Sleet and Sutton and also offer small forays into the lives of everyday people through never-before-seen images from the Johnson Collection," said Gates of the show. "The archives speak about beauty and black female power. Today it seems to me a good time to dig into the visual lexicon of the American book and show images that are rarely seen outside of my community. I wanted to celebrate women of all kinds and especially black women.”

The Fondazione is developing a further calendar of film events, with a special screening of Lee's BlacKkKlansman in October, winner of the Cannes Grand Prix du Jury.

The Fondazione Prada is co-chaired by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli. "The Black Image Corporation" is open to the public through Jan. 14, 2019.