Paraphrased from their own website, the following: a 51-seat cinema (that minimum capacity qualifying films for Oscar nomination), MDC’s mission began with a summer education program for youth whose parents were incarcerated, to encourage creative self-expression, holistic youth development and community building. Now low or no-cost education programs range from film literacy classes for children, film making for high school students, and advanced film-making for adults, and a cinema management job training program for Harlem residents. Maysles Cinema, at the MDC, is the only independent film house north of Lincoln Center devoted exclusively to documentary programming. That’s about three miles distant.
Past films and film series have included as subjects Malcolm X, the Chicano Movement, Marcus Garvey, William Kuntsler, Black Panthers, Slavery, Soul Food Junkies, Women Directors, the Panama Papers, New York African Film Festival and Uptown Flicks Presents: a monthly series featuring screenings of top recent French documentaries and verité films followed by a drinks and mingling.
Nearby on 131st Street is a former home of Jelly Roll Morton who, at the age of fourteen, worked as a piano player in a brothel. In that atmosphere, his repertoire included, appropriately, carnal themed songs, affording the nickname “Jelly Roll”, street slang for female genitalia, and by extension a lover of same.