Around the world, the month of February is recognized as Black History Month, dedicated to taking extra steps to remember the achievements and history of people of color. This month here on campus, the Putnam Theatre is remembering the achievements of African-American actors, directors, producers and stories alike.
The Putnam kicked off celebrating black history with the critically acclaimed “12 Years a Slave,” directed by Steve McQueen, from January 31 to February 5, recognizing the tragic but inspirational story of a free African-American man and his struggle when he is suddenly captured and enslaved.
Senior film production major and public outreach specialist for the Putnam Jack Callahan said that the Putnam Theatre’s Black History Month is all about representation in finding the most effective works that best showcase African-American culture.
“Obviously we would have the history of slavery with ‘12 Years a Slave’ and ‘Harriet’ with the Underground Railroad, but I think more contemporary films like ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Sorry to Bother You’ are very effective in telling of the plights of African-American culture,” said Callahan.
The Putnam Theatre continued its trek into Black History Month with screenings of the nationally recognized film “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins, and “Sorry to Bother You,” directed by Boots Riley, as their more contemporary counterparts to the films depicting specific historical events.
Lauren Peyser, senior at Keene State and attendee of the sparse audience screening of “Sorry To Bother You,” said, “I think we’re really community based here at Keene State so its nice that we’re trying to expand out and recognize black history.”
The Putnam’s Black History Month film showcase concluded with “Harriet,” directed by Kasi Lemmons. The film is an outstandingly strong representation of abolitionist Harriet Tubman and her escape from slavery, and how she liberated hundreds of African-American slaves through the Underground Railroad along the way.
Keene State senior and President of the KSC Film Society Corinn Colford said that in the process of forming the showcase, the idea of representation comes first in recognizing the achievements and heroes of black culture, especially through the medium of film.
“It’s significant because we need to show representation, especially in Keene, because, let’s be real, it’s not super diverse [in Keene]. Film in general lacks diversity, but now it’s getting better,” said Colford.
The Putnam Theatre has been recognizing Black History Month for years and will continue to do so, according to Film Society members Jack Callahan and Corinn Colford. The Putnam Theatre is located by the Putnam Arts Lecture Hall, next to the Redfern Arts Center, and screen films at 7 p.m. Friday through Monday, and Wednesdays. For a complete schedule of the theater’s showtimes and film selections, visit www.keene.edu/arts/putnam or pick up a schedule pamphlet from the theater or from a member of the KSC Film Society.
Alex Dube can be contacted