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Cinema Series: Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

The first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations, and social emergence of African Americans from slavery to the present, the award-winning film Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People probes the recesses of American history through images that have been suppressed, forgotten, and lost. 

Bringing to light the hidden and unknown photos shot by both professional and vernacular African American photographers, the film opens a window into the lives of black families, whose experiences and perspectives are often missing from the traditional historical canon. African Americans historically embraced the medium as a way to subvert popular stereotypes as far back as the Civil War era, with Frederick Douglass photographed in a suit and black soldiers posing proudly in their uniforms. These images show a much more complex and nuanced view of American culture and its founding ideals.

Directed by Thomas Allen Harris and inspired by Deborah Willis’s book Reflections in Black, the film features the works of Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco, Clarissa Sligh and many others. Through a Lens Darkly introduces the viewer to a diverse yet focused community of storytellers who transform singular experiences into a communal journey of discovery – and a call to action.

When: Tuesday, February 25 at 7pm

This event is located at the CIGI Campus Auditorium, 67 Erb St. W., Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 6C2.

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Content Disclaimer: Due to the subject matter discussed, please be aware that images containing depictions of historical events (including the aftermath of violent crimes) as well as nudity are shown during this film.