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Native Son: Film Screening

Festival of the Future City

Watershed  |  £5 – £10

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One of the most controversial novels of its day, Richard Wright's Native Son (first published in 1940) exposed the injustices of urban African-American life, witnessed through the eyes of Bigger Thomas (played here in this 1951 film adaptation by the author himself) whose violent tendencies and moral confusion were the natural result of a lifetime of deprivation.

Directed by French born film director Pierre Chenal, Native Son’s subject matter was so controversial that the producers weren’t allowed to film it in the United States and had to produce and shoot the film on location in Argentina. Native Son was banned in most states and was lost for decades. 

James Baldwin went on to offer a sharp critique of the novel in his breakthrough essay collection, Notes of a Native Son, published in 1955. Set in Harlem in the 1940s, the collection captures the complexity of Black life at the dawn of the civil rights movement.

This screening is presented in collaboration with BFI Audience Network, Bristol Ideas and Film Noir UK.

With thanks to Library of Congress, Kino Lorber, Fernando Martin Peña and Argentina Sono Film.

Director: Pierre Chenal
Starring: Richard Wright, Gloria Madison, Willa Pearl Curtis
104mins / Argentina / PG

Photo credit: BFI

This event is part of the Baldwin in Bristol series, which sees organisations around Bristol come together to celebrate the life and work of the great American writer.

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