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Denis Mueller Presents Russell Banks: I Write To Be a Better Person

April 8 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

An evening of film to honor the life and legacy of acclaimed writer and friend Russell Banks

If you have ever had the honor of attending a City of Asylum program with a placard ceremony, you are familiar with the haunting words of our organization’s dear late friend Russell Banks: 

Literature is a solitary art—writers are consequently weak and vulnerable to attack. The spontaneity of their imagination is their only weapon, and this is seen as danger by intolerant minds for the simple reason that it enables the world to be reinterpreted, created anew.

Russell first wrote these words in the founding charter of the Cities of Asylum movement. This special documentary screening is presented not only to honor the work of the famous writer it spotlights, but to honor the life of a man who was instrumental in the establishment of City of Asylum Pittsburgh itself. Russell played a crucial role in expanding the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) to the U.S., planting the seed for City of Asylum Pittsburgh’s existence and eventual growth into the largest residency program in the world for writers in exile.

This evening will feature a screening of a documentary Russell Banks: I Write To Be a Better Person followed by a conversation with director Denis Mueller and Caryl Phillips, a writer and close friend of Russell Banks. The conversation will be moderated by City of Asylum’s own Executive Director, Caro Llewellyn.

About the Artists:

Denis Mueller has been making films for 30 years. Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train was broadcast on the Sundance Channel, Link TV, and Free Speech Television. It was short-listed for an Academy Award nomination in 2005 and has recently been shown on Vermont PBS and the Savoy Theatre. Denis’ various films have been released on DVD and have also seen theatrical distribution. Beginning with the award-winning, FBI’s War On Black America, which was co-produced and co-directed with Deb Ellis, he has charted the abuses by the FBI and other government agencies for over 20 years and has built an audience surrounding the subject throughout the years. Denis recently completed Peace Has No Borders with collaborator Deb Ellis. He also was the co-director of the film with Ilko Davidov, Nelson Algren: The End Is Nothing, The Road Is All which recently was broadcast on Vermont Public Television, WTTW PBS, and presented at The American Documentary Festival. His new film Peace Has No Borders received an audience award at the Vermont Film Festival.

Caryl Phillips was born in St.Kitts and grew up in Britain. His plays include Strange Fruit (1980), Where There is Darkness (1982) and The Shelter (1983) and he won the BBC Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Play of the year with The Wasted Years (1984). His novels include The Final Passage (1985), A State of Independence (1986), The Nature of Blood (1997), Dancing in the Dark (2005), and A View of the Empire at Sunset (2018) to name a few. He also has several non-fiction works, and is the editor of two anthologies. Caryl’s work has been translated into over a dozen languages. His literary awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a British Council Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and Britain’s oldest literary award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, for Crossing the River which was also shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has taught at universities all over the world, and in 1999 was the University of the West Indies Humanities Scholar of the Year. Formerly Henry R. Luce Professor of Migration and Social Order at Columbia University, he has been Professor of English at Yale University since 2005. 

About Your Visit: 

The in-house restaurant 40 North is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but a cash wine bar will be available.

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April 8
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT
Program Category:


Alphabet City
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh,PA15212United States
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