From Friday, September 13 through Friday, September 20, BAM presents Purpose and Passion: The Cinema of John Singleton, a career retrospective dedicated to the trailblazing late director. "The sudden, shocking death of John Singleton at the age of just 51 in April 2019 robbed the world of a trailblazing, influential and, arguably, somewhat underrated chronicler of Black life on film," says series programmer Ashley Clark. "This is both a full retrospective of the late director's characteristically muscular, thought-provoking cinematic output, and a chance to pay tribute to a singular talent."

When Singleton (1968-2019) was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for his groundbreaking debut feature Boyz n the Hood (1991), he became both the first African-American filmmaker and the youngest person ever, at age 24, to be nominated for the award. It was an auspicious start to a trailblazing career that saw Singleton bring stories of Black urban life to the screen with never-before-seen depth and launch the film careers of superstars like Janet Jackson, Ice Cube, Taraji P. Henson, and Regina King. Writ with searing intensity, his films grapple with big picture ideas-racism, masculinity, and the American Dream-with profound humanity.

The series opens with Singleton's most iconic film and granddaddy of the 90s hood drama, Boyz n the Hood, with an introduction by celebrated novelist-and friend to Singleton-Walter Mosley. The series continues with Singleton's follow-up, the romantic road movie Poetic Justice (1993), starring music superstars Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson; the explosive ensemble drama Higher Learning (1995), introduced by writer and scholar Lavelle Porter; and Rosewood (1997), a historical portrait of the horrors of American racial violence and African-American perseverance, starring Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, and Jon Voight.

The retrospective continues with Singleton's work in the 2000s, including his stylish reboot of Shaft(2000), starring Samuel L. Jackson; Baby Boy (2001), an incisive portrait of Black masculinity, which Singleton described as his proudest achievement as a filmmaker, introduced by Just Another Girl on the IRT director Leslie Harris; the revenge thriller, Four Brothers (2005), starring Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, Mark Wahlberg, and Garrett Hedlund; 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), the most successful installment of the mega-hit franchise; and the delightfully goofy thriller Abduction (2011), starringTwilight alum Taylor Lautner, Lily Collins, and Alfred Molina. The series also includes a program of Singleton's television work, including the masterfully-directed episode of The People v. O.J. Simpson,"The Race Card" (2016) and a 30 FOR 30 (2009) profile of Olympic TRACK AND FIELD star Marion Jones, as well as Craig Brewer's gritty neo-Blaxploitation Hustle & Flow (2005), produced by Singleton.

Photo Credit: John Singleton's Baby Boy (2001), courtesy Sony Pictures

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