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CHOICE Cinema Series: In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks – The Learning Tree
May 8, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm$5
SoulTouch Productions and Landmark Center, in partnership with Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival (MSPIFF), present “CHOICE Cinema Series: In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks”, a screening of films by legendary artist Gordon Parks. The selection of films includes Half Past Autumn at 1 pm on Saturday, May 7; The Learning Tree at 3 pm on Sunday, May 8; and Leadbelly at 7 pm on Friday, May 13, shown = in Landmark Center’s F. K. Weyerhaeuser Auditorium.
Each screening will be followed by conversations with special guests from the Black community of filmmakers to examine the themes of the films and how they are relevant in the Black community today. Actor Kyle Johnson is the special guest for the post-film discussion of The Learning Tree.
About The Learning Tree
As an African-American teen in small-town Kansas in the 1920s, Newt Winger (Kyle Johnson) largely shrugs off the racial prejudice of his time and place. His calm and self-controlled perspective is in direct opposition to that of his quick-tempered friend, Marcus Savage (Alex Clarke). But when Marcus‘ father, Booker (Richard Ward), murders a man — and Newt witnesses the crime — Newt realizes that going to the police could jeopardize both his friendship and his life.
Actor Kyle Johnson, the special guest for post-screening discussion of The Learning Tree, has appeared in multiple TV shows such as The Fugitive (1963-1967) and Mod Squad (1968-1973). He played the son of Simon of Cyrene in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and appeared in Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) and Brother on the Run (1973). His most notable performance is from The Learning Tree, where he portrayed Newt Winger, a young Black man attempting to adhere to his morals through the experience of racial injustice.
About Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks’ films are recognized for their cultural significance and present positive and powerful media representation of young Black men. Parks used his camera as his “weapon” of choice to fight poverty and racism. His work not only gave the rest of the world a glimpse into the life of a person of color, but offered hope, choice, opportunity, and a platform to many in the Black community. As a nationally recognized photographer, musician, writer, and film director, Gordon Parks’ influence has extended through multiple generations and throughout our nation, beginning in St. Paul with his skill in photography.
This series will honor Gordon Parks’ legacy, his choice to use film and photography to portray the Black experience and be a catalyst for societal change. It will feature themes that remain relevant today, including mass incarceration, racism, and coming of age. For many in the Black community, it will be an opportunity to feature stories and narratives not often seen or represented in the mainstream, while for non-Black communities, it will further the understanding of the Black experience, break down barriers and stereotypes, and provide a fuller context to Parks’ work.
“Choice Cinema Series: In the Footsteps of Gordon Parks” is supported by the Saint Paul Cultural Star Program. For more information on the series, visit the CHOICE Cinema page at landmarkcenter.org or call 651.292.3063.