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Legendary Director John Singleton Receives His Flowers From Alma Mater USC

USC will present John Singleton: A Celebration, a year-long tribute to the groundbreaking filmmaker.

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Photo: Rick Fern (Getty Images)

John Singleton is one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. So many successful directors and showrunners cite his movies as the reason they got into the business. His death in 2019 shocked the industry and left a hole in Black culture. Now, one of the country’s most prestigious film schools is set to honor his legacy.

Per a press release provided to The Root, USC School of Cinematic Arts, USC African American Cinema Society and USC Visions & Voices are announcing the year-long tribute John Singleton: A Celebration. The special screenings begin Friday, Sept. 9 with the Oscar-nominated classic Boyz n the Hood, which is followed by a discussion moderated by legendary writer/director Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle).

John Singleton’s directing credits prove how ahead of his time he was. Poetic Justice put the spotlight on Black women back in 1993, Higher Learning portrayed a school shooting in 1995 and Rosewood told a lost story from Black history in 1997. He was making these topics important long before they were a regular part of our daily conversations.

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His impact can be seen in the way modern directors like Jordan Peele, Nia DaCosta, Ryan Coogler and Barry Jenkins use unexpected genres and stories to talk about race. He inspired a generation of creators to trust themselves and tell their own stories in their own distinct voices.

All tribute screenings take place at USC’s campus in Los Angeles and are free, though an RSVP is required. They include conversations with cast and crew from the films. The director’s mother, Sheila Ward; location manager, Kojo Lewis; and Frank Price, “former CEO of Columbia Pictures, who mentored Singleton and shepherded the project into production,” will participate in the discussion for Boyz n the Hood.

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“John Singleton was a true filmmaking genius, artist and humanitarian who was interested in and motivated by the social and cultural implications of his films,” said Alex Ago, Director of Programming for the USC School of Cinematic Arts. “His impact on the industry and audiences across the globe cannot be overstated. John’s voice and influence live on within the SCA family and we are forever grateful for his contribution to cinema. With this retrospective, we celebrate a true master of the art of storytelling.”

If you’re in the Los Angeles area between now and March, this should definitely make your list of must see events.

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Full screening schedule for John Singleton: A Celebration:

(all times Pacific)

  • Boyz n the Hood (1991): 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9 - Norris Cinema Theatre
  • Poetic Justice (1993): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 21 - Ray Stark Family Theatre
  • Higher Learning (1995): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12 - Ray Stark Family Theatre
  • Rosewood (1997): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 9 - Ray Stark Family Theatre
  • Shaft (2000): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 30 - Ray Stark Family Theatre
  • Baby Boy (2001): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25 - Ray Stark Family Theatre. Guests include: Tyrese Gibson
  • 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22 – Venue TBD
  • Four Brothers (2005): 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22 - Ray Stark Family Theatre