43nd Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival - APRIL 11-25, 2024Luminaries Tribute:
Gordon Parks

photo: The Gordon Parks Foundation

When speaking of Gordon Parks, one could easily write an entire biography on his work as a pioneering Black photographer working with the New Deal government; or on his fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including The Learning Tree; or on his music, including the scores for his own movies; or on his editorial work or his oil paintings. Naturally, The MSP Film Society is proud to focus on his work as groundbreaking filmmaker, whose iconic works include the landmark features The Learning Tree, Shaft and Leadbelly, all of which will be screened at the 2022 MSPIFF, along with MSPIFF programmer Craig Laurence Rice’s own documentary on Parks, Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks.


Presented in partnership with SoulTouch Productions and Landmark Center

Films Included:

Half Past Autumn: The Life and Works of Gordon Parks

Craig Laurence Rice
USA | 2000 | English
90 min | Documentary Feature

MSPIFF programmer Craig Laurence Rice’s documentary of the great American Renaissance Man Gordon Parks is an intimate examination of the rich body of work Parks left behind. Filmed when Parks was 88 years-old, Half Past Autumn looks at Parks as a groundbreaking photographer, composer, novelist, poet, painter, lecturer, biographer, co-founder of Essence magazine, and, of course, filmmaker.

Post-film discussion: Featuring director Craig Laurence Rice and SoulTouch Productions’ Robin Hickman-Winfield


Gordon Parks
USA | 1976 | English
126 min | Fiction Feature

Roger E. Mosley is brilliant as blues singer Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter in Gordon Parks’ criminally underrated Leadbelly. This tough-as-nails biopic celebrates Leadbelly as it condemns America’s treatment of Black artists.  “[O]ne of the best biographies of a musician I’ve ever seen.” –Roger Ebert

Post-film discussion: Featuring veteran filmmaker Kokayi Ampah

The Learning Tree

Gordon Parks
USA | 1969 | English
107 min | Fiction Feature

Newt and Marcus are two great friends whose lives take radically different paths in their small Midwestern town. Based on Parks’ autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree (which he wrote, produced, composed the score, and directed), is a blistering examination of how Blacks navigate the narrow corridors of America’s racism.

Post-film discussion: Featuring lead actor Kyle Johnson and SoulTouch Productions’ Robin Hickman-Winfield


Gordon Parks
USA | 1971 | English
100 min | Fiction Feature

When a Harlem mobster’s daughter is kidnapped by the Mafosi, does he turn to the cops? Not when Shaft’s in town. Thrilling, sexy, and dangerous, Gordon Parks’ action thriller ushered in the 70s Blaxploitation genre. Richard Roundtree is magnetic as Shaft and Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for the original song.

Post-film discussion: Featuring MSPIFF Programmer and filmmaker Craig Laurence Rice