Jonathan Demme's Rarely Seen Cinema: Jenny Lumet Selects

Sep. 23–Oct. 21, 2018

My great-grandmother Edna started in the tent shows and graduated to a bit part in one race movie, the name of which is lost to history. My Grandpa Baruch started in the Yiddish theater and made five movies. Grandpa Lenny, a musical director and arranger for MGM, made 31 movies. Dad made 50 movies. My son has made two. I’ve made 11.

And Grandma Lena made 21. In 15 of those, she was filmed with the understanding that her stuff was to be cut out when those movies were distributed below the Mason-Dixon line.

In Stormy Weather, The Duke is Tops, Cabin in the Sky, Death of a Gunfighter, and The Wiz, she was integral. That’s why I chose them. And I miss her, and seeing her face brings me joy.

Although she was famous, Grandma was Rarely Seen, because there were, and still are, for some, life-or-death stakes involved in Being Seen.

She was able to communicate multiple and sometimes conflicting messages simultaneously. And there’s a lot more. So, she’s a magic superhero (and so are the Nicholas Brothers, who made 40 movies) and she’s worth a hundred times the people she had to endure to be herself.

Thanks to JD and Joanne and JBFC for these moments. And thank you all for watching.

—Jenny Lumet

Jenny Lumet wrote Rachel Getting Married, which Jonathan Demme directed. Her grandmother was the singer, actor, and civil rights activist Lena Horne and her father was the filmmaker Sidney Lumet. She is an executive director of BinderCon, a conference for women and non-gender-conforming writers, and holds screenwriting seminars for women of color and women over 40.

Director of Programming Brian Ackerman also shared his feelings about the re-launch of this special series. Read what he has to say on the JBFC  blog.


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