(RED BANK, NJ) -- Count Basie Center for the Arts kicks off its recognition of Black History Month on Saturday, February 4 with its free film series at Basie Center Cinemas, 36 White Street in downtown Red Bank. A Journal For Jordan, the 2021 film starring Michael B. Jordan, will be shown at 4:30pm with a post-screening talkback with Pulitzer Prize-winning Dana Canedy, whose memoir provides the story behind the Denzel Washington-directed film. Canedy’s fiancé, First Sgt. Charles Monroe King, was killed in Iraq in 2006, but not before penning a series of letters to their unborn son, which are included throughout the memoir.
“I first wrote about losing Charles in the New York Times, where I was a journalist, and there was just an overwhelming, wonderful response from the readers, that actually helped in my grief,” says Canedy. “People reached out to us, and they were so generous… sending cards, notes and messages to us, and I felt surrounded by love.”
“I needed to do something with my grief, because I realized I could sink into that grief and be angry and bitter, or I could do something productive, and writing has always been salvation for me.”
Canedy’s memoir and its big screen adaptation were celebrated by critics and fans alike. “Denzel Washington delivers another strong adult-skewing drama about the American Black experience that only exists because he wanted to make it,” boasted Forbes magazine’s Scott Mendelson. New York Times critic Lisa Kennedy noted, “Denzel Washington directs… with care, respect and a deep-seated knowledge of the Black love stories that don't make it to the big screen nearly enough. “Bring Kleenex; no shame in that,” National Post critic Chris Knight advised.
Basie Center Cinemas will host free community film screenings throughout Black History Month. Interested patrons must reserve their free tickets online at www.basiecentercinemas.org or after 12:00pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays or Sundays at the Basie Center Cinemas box office, located onsite at 36 White Street in downtown Red Bank.
Sunday, February 5 at 4:30pm - DO THE RIGHT THING (1989). Starring Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and John Turturro; Directed by Spike Lee. Rated R. Salvatore "Sal" Fragione (Aiello) is the Italian owner of a pizzeria in Brooklyn. A neighborhood local, Buggin' Out, becomes upset when he sees that the pizzeria's Wall of Fame exhibits only Italian actors. Buggin' Out believes a pizzeria in a black neighborhood should showcase black actors, but Sal disagrees. The wall becomes a symbol of racism and hate to Buggin' Out and to other people in the neighborhood, and tensions rise.
Sunday, February 19 at 1:45pm - THE WIZ (1978). Starring Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne; Directed by Sidney Lumet. Rated G. When Harlem schoolteacher Dorothy (Diana Ross) tries to save her dog from a storm, she's miraculously whisked away to an urban fantasy land called Oz. After accidentally killing the Wicked Witch of the East upon her arrival, Dorothy is told about the Wiz (Richard Pryor), a wizard who can help her get back to Manhattan. As Dorothy goes in search of the Wiz, she's joined by the Scarecrow (Michael Jackson), the Tin Man (Nipsey Russell) and the Cowardly Lion (Ted Ross).
Sunday, February 19 at 4:30pm - DEAR WHITE PEOPLE (2014). Starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner; Directed by Justin Simien. Rated R. A campus culture war between blacks and whites at a predominantly white school comes to a head when the staff of a humor magazine stages an offensive Halloween party.
Sunday, February 26 at 4:30pm - THE GREEN BOOK (2018). Starring Mahershala Ali, Viggo Mortensen; Directed by Peter Farrelly. Rated PG-13. Dr Don Shirley is a world-class African-American pianist, who is about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. In need of a driver and protection, Shirley recruits Tony Lip, a tough-talking bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx. Despite their differences, the two men soon develop an unexpected bond while confronting racism and danger in an era of segregation.
Basie Center Cinemas is located at 36 White Street in downtown Red Bank, New Jersey. Free, advance tickets are required for this film series and are available at www.basiecentercinemas.org