Photographer, filmmaker, and author Gordon Parks grew up in St. Paul and returned to the Twin Cities in 1996 to be the subject of a Regis Dialogue and Retrospectives at the Walker, where he was joined onstage for a conversation with noted filmmaker and critic Susan Robeson. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Dialogues series, we look back on Parks’s momentous return to the Twin Cities and his cultural legacy. Key to his practice was his commitment to global human rights, civil rights, and the arts as an avenue to address social conditions. These two events focus on his commitment to social justice.
Presented in collaboration with SoulTouch Productions, Twin Cities Black Journalists, and the National Association of Black Journalist’s Founders, in conjunction with the NABJ National Conference.
Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, 3 pm
Directed by Gordon Parks
Post-screening discussion with producer Shep Morgan
Nearly two decades before Steve McQueen premiered his adaptation of 12 Years a Slave, Gordon Parks had directed his own film of the same story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in the mid-1800s. Parks’s version was produced for PBS’ American Playhouse series and included in his retrospective as part of his Regis Dialogue at Walker in 1996. 1984, video, 115 minutes.
Following the screening, join Shep Morgan for a discussion. Morgan has produced, written, and directed specials and series for NBC, CBS, and PBS as well as Westinghouse and Metromedia Television. He has won major awards in broadcasting, from a National Emmy for the controversial and critically applauded PBS series The Great American Dream Machine to the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Bill Moyers Journal and the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival for Moments Without Proper Names, a documentary on the life and work of photographer/director and author Gordon Parks. Morgan has produced three dramas for the PBS American Playhouse series: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, Denmark Vesey’s Rebellion, and Charlotte Forten’s Mission.
In Discussion: David Parks and Daniel Pierce Bergin, 7 pm
In Gordon Parks’s autobiography A Choice of Weapons (Minnesota Historical Society Press), he recounted his bitter struggle against poverty and prejudice growing up between Kansas and St. Paul, and how he used the arts as a tool to fight against injustice. Join David Parks, the filmmaker’s son and a noted photographer and director, and producer/historian Daniel Pierce Bergin for a discussion about the legacy of Gordon Parks and his challenge to continue the advances he had made during his lifetime.
Born in Minneapolis, David Parks is a photographer, film director, publicist, and author of GI Diary, a collection of writings and photographs depicting his experiences as an African American soldier in the Vietnam War. His writing and photographs have appeared in Ebony, Look, Vogue, and Glamour magazines. His work in film includes Leadbelly (assistant to producer), Super Fly (assistant to director), Shaft (production assistant), The Great White Hope (production assistant), Buffalo Soldiers, 9th Cavalry Memorial (director), African Art and Repression (director).
Bergin is the senior producer and partnership manager for Twin Cities Public Television (TPT). His productions include such regional Emmy-winners as Lowertown: The Rise of an Urban Village, North Star: Minnesota’s Black Pioneers, and Legacy Letters, a series about protecting Minnesota’s heritage. His Literature & Life: The Givens Collection was named the Best History Documentary at the Prized Pieces International Black Film Festival, and he produced Don’t Believe the Hype, TPT’s Emmy Award–winning youth media program.