Free and Open to the Public.
The North Carolina Humanities Council has awarded North Carolina State University’s African American Cultural Center and the Africana Studies Program a grant to present a film and humanities discussion of the documentary, Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door (2011). This project is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door is an independent documentary on the controversial 1973 film, The Spook Who Sat by the Door. The film, based on Sam Greenlee’s breakthrough novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1969), is widely hailed as a cult classic and one of the most important black productions of the era. The story focuses on a black man who was trained as a CIA agent. Greenlee used the word “spook” as a double entendre; the word was slang for “spy” and a term used to refer to Black Americans. The “Spook,” though trained as a government operative, eventually uses the racist perception of Black inferiority and successfully challenges the oppressive forces in his community. Greenlee wrote a screenplay based on his novel and worked with actor, director and producer, Ivan Dixon, to produce the film. Dixon, who graduated from Lincoln Academy in Gaston County, NC and from North Carolina Central University in 1954, directed the film.
Infiltrating Hollywood focuses on how Greenlee and Dixon used the film industry’s biased expectations of black-themed films in the 1970s by cutting their dailies to look like a Blaxploitation in order to obtain from a major distributor to finish the film. United Artists took the bait and was dismayed at the final production of the film; however, the company was bound by contract to release the film. Instead of images of pimps and prostitutes perpetuated by Hollywood during the 1970s, the film portrayed black people who were willing to fight for their beliefs to achieve freedom from oppression.
The North Carolina Humanities Council grant is a part of a unique Triangle and Triad consortium — the Southern Black Film and Media Consortium — involving the NCSU African American Cultural Center; the NCSU Africana Studies Program; the UNC Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History; the Mary Lou Williams Black Cultural Center at Duke University; film/media/Africana Studies programs at Bennett College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Shaw University, St. Augustine’s University, and North Carolina Central University; and the Hayti Heritage Center.
The program will feature the author, Sam Greenlee, as well as Dr. Joseph Jordan, Dir. Sonja Stone Center, Dr. Charlene Register (UNC), Dr. Yvonne Welbon (Bennett College), Dante James, Asst. Director of the African American Cultural Center, and Dr. Sheila smith McKoy the director of the African American cultural center.
The screening and discussion is the first event organized by Southern Black Film & Media Consortium (SBFMC). The SBFMC welcomes individuals, organizations, and institutions who are interested and/or engaged in the study, craft, production, critique, and distribution of film and media focused on African, African-American and African diaspora cultures and experience. The SBFMC also welcomes film enthusiasts and those interested in the aesthetics of film and media.
The screening and humanities discussion of, Infiltrating Hollywood: The Rise and Fall of the Spook Who Sat by the Door is free to the public. The Hayti Heritage center is located at 804 Old Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC 27701.
For more information call the Hayti Heritage center at 919-683-1709 or the NCSU African American cultural center at 919-515-1451.