Big Screen Celebrates Black History Month

Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger in “In the Heat of the Night.” Poitier is the subject of a Black History Month event at the Cinema Arts Centre this month. (Photo/United Artists)

Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger in “In the Heat of the Night.” Poitier is the subject of a Black History Month event at the Cinema Arts Centre this month. (Photo/United Artists)

The big screen at a local arts house will celebrate Black History Month in a big way with five events from Feb. 10-24.

The series, held at Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre, kicks off with a big screen tribute to a San Francisco band pivotal in the development of soul, funk, and psychedelic music: Sly and the Family Stone. Music archivist Bill Shelley on Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. gives a lecture and shows special clips of Sly and the Family Stone, the first successful rock group whose members were multi-racial and multicultural, using women and men as musicians and singers. This tribute will focus on live performances, including “Everyday People,” “I Want to Take You Higher,” “Dance to the Music,” “Family Affair,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” and “Stand.”

Then, watch “The Big Beat: The Story of Fats Domino & His Band” on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. with speaker, filmmaker Joe Lauro of Sag Harbor, record collector and film archivist. It is a new documentary about the legendary artists who broke racial barriers and influenced music for generations to come. Lauro profiles the early years of Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew and how they turned New Orleans rhythm and blues into rock ’n’ roll.

Next up is a silent flick with live organ accompaniment by MoMA’s Ben Model. “Within Our Gates” – a 1920 silent film starring blues singer Evelyn Preer that portrays the contemporary racial situation in the United States during the early twentieth century, the years of Jim Crow, the revival of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Migration of blacks to cities of the North and Midwest, and the emergence of the “New Negro” – screens Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. It is the oldest-known surviving complete feature film made by an African-American director, Oscar Micheaux.

The fourth event is a talk with Long Islander Philip Harwood, who will present a portrait of the first African-American actor to receive an Academy Award for Best Actor, Sidney Poitier. Poitier is an actor, director, and diplomat, who has graced the motion picture screen for over half a century with scenes from such films as “The Defiant Ones” and “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.” Join Harwood Monday, Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m.

The last event is a screening of “Through A Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People” on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. with speaker and writer/producer Don Perry. The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African-Americans from slavery to the present, “Through a Lens Darkly” probes the recesses of American history by discovering images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost.

All films are $15 for the public and $10 for Cinema Arts Centre members. The Cinema Arts Centre is located at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington. Call 631-423-7610 or visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.