Rock and Historical Roles

Just as it lurks in the bay, often behind a wall of fog, Alcatraz lurks in most Bay Area residents’ minds as a legend relegated to memory. Its story has been retold so many times through the cinema, whether by John Frankenheimer or Jerry Bruckheimer, it can be easy to forget the real lives that unraveled at the one-time high-security federal prison. Local filmmaker Kevin Epps has also made a movie about the Rock, but his doesn’t have anything to do with rogue Marines armed with chemical weapons or the singular charms of Burt Lancaster. While Epps’ 2005 documentary, the critically acclaimed Straight Outta Hunters Point, painted an unflinching picture of his former neighborhood, The Black Rock tells the little-known stories of the black prisoners of Alcatraz who suffered racial prejudice in addition to the harsh conditions and treatment endured by their fellow prisoners. Using interviews and archival footage, Epps documents the lives of characters like Harlem gangster Ellsworth “Bumpy” Johnson and Robert Lipscomb, a counterfeiter turned prison activist. Epps will be on hand at the premiere, accompanied by historian and author John Templeton, and Jakada Imani, executive director of the Ella Baker Center.
Feb. 27-March 5, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 28, 2, 4, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Wed., March 4, 2, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2009

 
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