`Raisin' is front-runner for top African-American film

August 20, 1999|By Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach | Ann Hornaday and Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

One day into voting for the 50 greatest African-American films and actors of all time, and 600 ballots had already been cast, Michael Johnson said Wednesday night.

The early front-runner among films, according to Johnson, founder of the Heritage Shadows of the Silver Screen Museum and Cinema, was "A Raisin In the Sun," director Daniel Petrie's 1961 adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's play about an African-American family that moves into an all-white neighborhood.

Johnson was speaking to a packed house at the Senator Theatre. The occasion was the premiere of a new HBO film, "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge," starring Halle Berry as the first African-American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (for 1954's "Carmen Jones" -- she lost to Grace Kelly in "The Country Girl"). The film debuts on HBO at 9 p.m. tomorrow.

Johnson, who hopes to establish a theater and museum near the soon-to-be-renovated Hippodrome devoted to African-American cinema, took the occasion to promote the Top-50 list he plans to unveil early next year.

Ballots can be picked up at the Senator or at the payment center at TCI Communications corporate headquarters, 5801 Metro Drive in the Seton Business Park. You can also vote by sending e-mail to greatest50@aol.com.

New from Garcia

Rodrigo Garcia's "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her," a comedy starring Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart and Kathy Baker, has just been picked up by United Artists Films, the company's first acquisition as a specialty subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Last year Garcia, a cinematographer who worked on "Mi Vida Loca" and "Four Rooms," won the second annual Producers Club of Maryland Fellowship of $10,000.

"Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her" tells five interwoven stories of women coping with love and loss. Look for the film at the end of the year.

Director's lecture

Chris Eyre, director of the acclaimed movie "Smoke Signals," will deliver the lecture "How Stories Change the World" at Goucher College on Sept. 2. Eyre will appear as part of a new first-year student orientation program at Goucher, in which incoming students have read the novel on which "Smoke Signals" was based and will attend a screening of the film as well as Eyre's talk.

Eyre will speak at 6: 30 p.m. in Kraushaar Auditorium on the Goucher campus. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, call 410-337-6333.

Screenings around town

The smash hit of the summer, the Open-Air Italian Film Festival in Little Italy, continues tonight with a screening of Vittorio De Sica's "The Bicycle Thief" (1947), the classic tale about a man whose life depends on his bicycle and his desperate search when it is stolen. The movie begins at 9 p.m. at the corner of High and Stiles streets. Bring a lawn chair for maximum comfort. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Columbia Lakefront Summer Festival continues its summer family film series tonight and Monday with screenings of "Blast From the Past" (PG-13) and "Babe: Pig in the City," respectively. The shows begin promptly at dusk and will be introduced by Tom Brzezinski ("Mr. B") on the lawn at the Columbia Town Center Lakefront (Lake Kittamaqundi), off Little Patuxent Parkway. Admission is free and open to the public.

Help save the Orpheum

Tickets are still available to the fund-raiser for the New Orpheum movie theater, which will be held Sept. 12 at the Charles Theatre. Baltimore filmmakers Steve Yeager, Martha Colburn, Joy Lusco and Scott Kecken will show work.

Orpheum owner George Figgs hopes to transform the tiny Fells Point theater into a nonprofit film co-op and archive, where historical, nonfiction and rare art films can be screened. Figgs recently raised more than $2,000 to help pay the rent on the theater and to stabilize the theater's claim on the property, but the New Orpheum still needs support.

Tickets to the fund-raiser, which begins at 5 p.m., may be purchased for a donation of $25. Send a check payable to the Orpheum Cinema to the Orpheum, 1724 Thames St., Baltimore, Md., 21231. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope so your tickets can be mailed back to you. (Since the Orpheum is not yet a nonprofit institution, your donation is not tax-deductible.)

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