POV intern Dain A. Evans reports back from a community screening of American Revolutionary presented at the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center in partnership with Active Voice and The World Cafe.
Grace Lee Boggs herself would have cherished Tuesday night’s screening of American Revolutionary at The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center. Not for the praise of her wisdom, or the praise of the film, but for the conversations that were sparked. Active Voice, in partnership with The World Cafe created an environment of discovery and community in the discussion following the viewing, throwing the panel-driven model to the wayside and fostering connections between audience members. Viewers sat at round tables in groups of 4 or 5, and were prompted with questions like, “What would it really take to evolve together?” – a concept Boggs expresses in the film and in many of her writings. These questions were then explored between the groups, keeping in mind the ideas Boggs relays in the film. One participant suggested, “We have to evolve ourselves [together], not ‘I have to evolve myself.'”
Moving forward in the discussion, the groups were encouraged to write and draw on large sheets of paper in the center of each table. With colorful markers, people scrawled ideas and philosophies and questions and concerns, filling the blank page with a scattering of thoughts. One comment asked, “what do we mean by revolution,” again, a question relayed in the film. More questions were asked than were answered, and that was exactly the point.
Community, another strong theme in the film, was demonstrated in these microcosm discussion groups in a way most film discussions fail to achieve. Matt, a member of the audience and friend to Boggs, was told this by the almost 99-year-old activist: “See yourself as responsible for creating a shift as significant as the shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture.” She added, “See yourself as significant enough to create that shift.” This unique method helped the viewers to truly digest the film, and there is hardly a better film to fully digest than this. Beautifully composed and not-so-quietly poignant, the viewers laughed and cried together last night, as members of one community among many, watching and listening intently to Grace Lee Boggs in American Revolutionary.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs will premieres Monday, June 30th at 10PM on POV. Check your local listings.