This Pittsburgh screening of the 1913 silent film Lime Kiln Field Day will be presented with live music by pianist Donald Sosin, one of America’s foremost composers and performers of silent film scores. Although shot more than a century ago, the film was only restored and premiered in 2014 as part of an exhibit staged by the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
A light-hearted work starring Bert Williams, Lime Kiln Field Day is one of the earliest movies ever to feature an all-black cast and joyful, realistic depictions of daily life for turn-of-the-century African-Americans; as such, it stands in powerful contrast to the more well-known, nakedly racist Birth of a Nation that was produced during the same period. The showing of Lime Kiln Field Day will be an opportunity for faculty, students, and community to reflect on a number of the themes raised by the Year of the Humanities. At its most fundamental, the film is a simple affirmation of the humanity of its African-American protagonists, people who at the time of Lime Kiln’s creation were often assumed to be somehow less than human. And as it documents their “being human” through expressions of humor and love during a dark period in America’s racial history, it encourages us to medita te on the ways the arts and humanities can play a role in the struggle against racism and injustice today.
The presentation of Lime Kiln at Pitt-Bradford on February 9th will be open to faculty, staff, and students, as well as members of the Bradford community. Donald Sosin will also meet with students of Music in Film (MUS 0260) and Modern Black Theater (AFRCNA 210) to talk about his work as a composer and performer for silent films, as well as the cultural context of Lime Kiln Field Day and its relationship to Birth of a Nation and other films from the period.
This event is also sponsored by the Communication and the Arts (Music) Program at the Univeristy of Pittsburgh-Bradford and the Humanities Center (Oakland). For more information, contact Joshua Groffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.