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The Murder of Fred Hampton + The Cry of Jazz

Fri, Oct 28 / 7 pm

The Murder of Fred Hampton (Howard Alk, 1971, 88 min, 16mm)
The Cry of Jazz
(Ed Bland, 1959, 34 min, 35mm)

In 1968, director Howard Alk and the radical collective known as the Film Group began making a documentary about the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and its chairman Fred Hampton. Though Hampton was just 20 years old, his electrifying words and actions were inspiring young black people to demand respect and to insist that their voice be heard in the political spectrum. Meanwhile, FBI and government officials were working with local police to suppress Black Panther chapters and leaders across the country. On December 4, 1969, during a predawn Chicago police raid, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were murdered and four others were seriously wounded. Within hours, Panthers arranged for the Film Group to enter the scene. The footage of the bloody apartment, still riddled with bullets, that appears in the film directly contradicted the state attorney and his version of the raid. The Murder of Fred Hampton is an investigative film that traps government officials in their attempted cover-up of Hampton’s premeditated assassination. 

The Cry of Jazz is an early and influential example of black independent filmmaking. Directed by Ed Bland, edited by Howard Alk, and produced with the help of more than 60 volunteer crew members, it is a historic film on racism and the appropriation of jazz by those who disrespect its origins. The film juxtaposes scenes of life in Chicago’s black neighborhoods with interviews of artists and intellectuals, interspersed with performance clips by monolithic jazz musicians Sun Ra and his Arkestra. The Cry of Jazz demonstrates the tension between rehearsed and improvised jazz music.

The Murder of Fred Hampton courtesy of Canyon Cinema.
The Cry of Jazz
courtesy of Matt Rogers.

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