You are cordially invited to a special screening of documentaries directed by Gordon Parks accompanying his photography exhibition at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art on April 25, 2017 at 18:00. The fates of people portrayed in these films – a Brazilian boy, an African-American family, and a Puerto Rican poet and activist – are seemingly different, but united by the theme of the struggle to survive and overcome poverty and racial oppression. The photo-essays by Parks dealing with these same heroes were published in Life magazine.
Flavio (1964) shares the story about a Brazilian favela boy, who became the hero of a photo-essay Gordon Parks published in Life magazine. As a result, readers rushed to raise funds for Flavio’s medical treatment and helped his family to move into their own house.
Diary of a Harlem Family (1968) presents the history of a family struggling with poverty in Harlem. Telling the Fontenelles’ story was a personal crusade for Parks. As he recalled in his memoir “To Smile in Autumn,” the assignment came at the end of the long, hot summer of 1967, a period of urban uprisings in black America. His editors asked him — the only African-American photographer on the magazine’s staff — to explain to them and to Life magazine’s readers why the nation’s inner cities were going up in flames.
In The World of Piri Thomas (1968) Gordon Parks takes a journey through New York City’s Spanish Harlem along with writer and poet Piri Thomas. Thomas reads from his best-selling memoir, “Down These Mean Streets.” These sights and sounds record the grim and crumbling life of the neighborhood and its inhabitants, but also provide a glimmer of hope for “survival and triumph over the ghetto.”
Photo: Gordon Parks, Bessie and Little Richard the Morning After She Scalded Her Husband, Harlem, New York, 1967 © Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation