In collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation and Anthology Film Archives in New York City, CFA is happy to present this special online program in honor the 50th anniversary release of SHAFT (1971). CFA is reprising a screening of shorts initially presented at the Black Cinema House in Chicago’s south side Grand Crossing neighborhood in 2013.

This online program, hosted by Anthology Film Archives with the support of the Gordon Parks Foundation, will include screenings of three pivotal documentary works in Parks’s filmography. FLAVIO (1964) is a short film centering on Flávio da Silva, a young boy from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro who Parks photographed for one of his best-known assignments for LifeDIARY OF A HARLEM FAMILY (1968) utilizes Parks’s photographs for another Life magazine assignment, combined with his voiceover narration to reveal the racism and economic hardships experienced by Harlem residents. THE WORLD OF PIRI THOMAS (1968) extends this concern by unveiling the specter of poverty through the eyes of the eponymous Puerto Rican-Cuban writer and poet. These rarely-seen early works will be supplemented by Romas Slezas’s illuminating short, LISTEN TO A STRANGER: AN INTERVIEW WITH GORDON PARKS (1973)

For additional information and online resources visit the Anthology Film Archives and Chicago Film Archives websites.


1964, 12 min, 16mm-to-digital. Courtesy of Kino Lorber.
“Based on a 1961 Life Magazine series by Parks, FLAVIO depicts a day in the life of a twelve-year old Brazilian boy named Flavio, one of a family of ten living on a squalid, impoverished hillside across the bay from Rio de Janeiro. Parks depicts the details, moods, and tensions that affect the boy who, though suffering from tuberculosis, keeps the house going and represents a possible hope for his family.” –CHICAGO FILM ARCHIVES

1968, 20 min, 16mm-to-digital. Narration and photography: Gordon Parks. New digital restoration courtesy of Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive. 
Like FLAVIO, this film grew out of one of Parks’s extraordinary photo essays, a Life Magazine piece that focused on the Fontenelle family. Constructed from Parks’s photographs, new film footage, and Parks’s quietly impassioned narration, DIARY OF A HARLEM FAMILY is a painful but sensitive portrait of a family beset by the ravages of poverty.

NET Journal, 1968, 60 min, 16mm-to-digital. Special sequences directed by Gordon Parks; additional photography by Dan Drasin, Paul Glicksberg, Gordon Parks, Jr., and Frank Simon. New digital restoration courtesy of Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive.
THE WORLD OF PIRI THOMAS depicts life in Spanish Harlem through the eyes – and writings – of Puerto Rican-Cuban poet Piri Thomas, whose memoir Down These Mean Streets (1967) had recently become a best-seller.

Romas Slezas
1973, 19 min, 16mm-to-digital. Courtesy of Kino Lorber. Preserved with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
This short documentary by filmmaker Romas Slezas (who passed away in 2019), captures Parks on the set of SHAFT’S BIG SCORE, and at his Beverly Hills home, where he shares memories and stories about his life and career. LISTEN TO A STRANGER was produced by the pioneering production company, Blackside, Inc., whose founder Henry Hampton would later create the renowned documentary series, EYES ON THE PRIZE. The film is currently housed in the archives of Washington University in St. Louis, and was recently photochemically preserved through the generous support of the National Film Preservation Foundation.