Last Picture House hosts Black History event

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Azubuike Arts and The Last Picture House are partnering for a special event next weekend to celebrate Black History Month.

This exclusive evening, featuring Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking new film, “Origin,” will start on Saturday, Feb. 10th with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by a VIP screening at 6 p.m.

“Origin” is playing all this week at The Last Picture House in downtown Davenport.
“Origin” is playing all this week at The Last Picture House in downtown Davenport.

The film, inspired by Isabel Wilkerson’s critically acclaimed book “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents,” explores profound themes of race and caste in America, offering a compelling, enlightening, and necessary narrative, according to a release from Azubuike Arts.

The new indie movie theater, The Last Picture House, is at 325 E. 2nd St., Davenport.

Guests will engage in a meaningful dialogue during the audience Talkback discussion, hosted jointly by Azubuike Arts and The Last Picture House, immediately following the screening. This interactive session promises to foster insightful conversations and deepen understanding of the film’s themes, the Azubuike release says.

Starting at 5 p.m., the reception is integral to the evening, setting the stage for the night’s proceedings. Open to the public, it offers an inviting atmosphere where attendees can mingle, enjoy refreshments, and anticipate the night’s main event. A cash bar will be available.

In a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgment, VIP guests of Azubuike Arts will receive complimentary admission to the screening. The VIP guest list is by invitation only.

“Origin” is a must-see film that delves into the complex layers of race and caste in America, based on the seminal work by Isabel Wilkerson, the release says.

Ava DuVernay at the New York premiere of “Origin” held at Alice Tully Hall on Nov. 30, 2023 in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Variety via Getty Images)
Ava DuVernay at the New York premiere of “Origin” held at Alice Tully Hall on Nov. 30, 2023 in New York, N.Y. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Variety via Getty Images)

“It is a powerful narrative that resonates with the ongoing conversations about equality, identity, and history. Azubuike Arts and The Last Picture House proudly present this film as a centerpiece of their Black History Month celebrations, inviting the community to engage, reflect, and be moved by the art of cinema,” Azubuike said in the release.

A New York Times review called “Origin” “as audacious as it is ambitious. At its core, it concerns an intellectual argument about history and hierarchies of power, but it’s also about the fraught process of making this argument. It’s a daunting conceit that DuVernay has shaped into an eventful narrative that is, by turns, specific and far-ranging, diagnostic and aspirational.

“It is a great big swing about taking a great big swing, and while the film is more persuasive as a drama than the argument it relays, few American movies this year reach so high so boldly,” the review said.

The panelists for the post-movie Last Picture House talkback will be:

  • Randy A. Moore – President of Iowa-American Water Company Inc., Moore is recognized for blending his utility sector expertise with extensive involvement in the Quad Cities area. His endeavors parallel his commitment to the industry to effect positive change locally through active engagement and contributions to community affairs.

  • Joy Shannon – Writer/Director and an independent filmmaker Shannon is a native of Rock Island based in Los Angeles. She is an accomplished artist and filmmaker with a BFA from Howard University and an MA in film from The American University in Washington, DC. Her career highlights include serving as a CPB juror, receiving grants from AFI and WETA, and pioneering as the first African-American woman to direct a feature film released on home video and in Blockbuster with “Rags to Reality” (also known as “Uptown Angel”).

  • Avery Pearl: Author and community advocate, Pearl is a 27-year-old Quad Cities native, a business owner, a published author, and an award-winning musician. He received a bachelor’s degree from Augustana College in political science and Africana studies, received an RBSI masters certificate from Duke University, has presented research at the American Political Science Association’s annual convention, and is a certified restorative justice circle keeper. Assistant director at one of Iowa’s only Black-owned, led, and focused community centers, Pearl is passionate about addressing the disparities in the Quad Cities. Through his urban development work in the area, he’s been associated with projects in the “West End” Rock Island and the “Watertown” East Moline communities. Avery is helping address the long-lasting effects of systemic neglect.

The 6 p.m. screening is open to the public. Tickets for adults are $11, available HERE. To learn more about this Feb. 10 event, email azubuikeartscouncil@gmail.com.

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