Film Screenings

The Bombing of Osage Avenue  (1987), By Your Side (2021) and Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center (2023)

Date & Time: Friday, November 17th,  5 PM – 7:30 PM
Location: 20 Ames St, Bartos Theatre, Lower Level AtriumRoom E15 – 070, Wiesner Building, Cambridge, MA 02142


Free & open to the MIT community and public!


Place Based Histories in West Philadelphia featuring film screenings of The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1986), By Your Side (2021), Precious Places: Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center (2023).

In conversation with filmmakers Debbie Africa, Mike Africa, Sr. and Louis Massiah, filmmaker & MLK visiting scholar. Moderated by Garnette Cadogan, Tunney Lee Distinguished Lecturer in Urbanism at MIT.

Join us for an exclusive screening of The Bombing of Osage Avenue (1987), a remarkable documentary directed by Louis Massiah, a distinguished film/videomaker, documentary historian and cultural worker. The evening will also feature two other films about the place and people of West Philadelphia, By Your Side (2021) by Mike and Debbie Africa, who will be in attendance; and Precious Places: Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center (2023) by Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center and Scribe Video Center. The screenings will be followed by a discussion moderated by essayist and urbanist, Garnette Cadogan.

As a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Massiah is celebrated for his commitment to shedding light on crucial yet often overlooked topics with a unique blend of integrity, insight, and artistic expression. His extensive portfolio includes directorial credits for films such as “Trash” (1985), “W.E.B Du Bois: A Biography in Four Voices” (1995), “Cecil B. Moore” (1987), and “Louise Alone Thompson Patterson: In Her Own Words” (2002).

Additionally, Massiah’s work extends to producing two films for the PBS series “Eyes on the Prize II” (1990) and creating a pioneering five-channel video installation for the historic President’s House site managed by the National Park Service. Beyond his filmmaking achievements, Louis Massiah serves as the visionary founder and director of the Scribe Video Center in Philadelphia, an invaluable hub for media arts. The center offers workshops and equipment access to community groups, fostering emerging independent media production methodologies and empowering first-time creators to use media as a creative tool for shaping their own historical narratives.


Filmmakers: Louis Massiah and Toni Cade Bambara

On Mother’s Day, 1985, a virtual army of city and state police converged on a quiet block in the African-American community of Cobbs Creek, a neighborhood of parks and streams, children on bicycles, aluminum siding and basketball stars. By the next day, 61 homes were destroyed and 11 people were dead, all members of the communitarian MOVE organization. In this documentary history, filmmaker Louis Massiah establishes the setting for the tragedy early on, and Toni Cade Bambara’s poetic narration draws us deeper into the drama.

Neighbors recall the coming of MOVE members, unusual in their back-to-nature lifestyle, and the “incidents” — including trash thrown into their yards and profanities blasting over loudspeakers — which caused their relationship with the community to deteriorate. Eventually the close-knit community called on city officials to deal with MOVE members, unwittingly opening a Pandora’s Box. The bombing referred to in the documentary’s title was ordered by the Philadelphia police with the acquiescence of then-mayor, W. Wilson Goode, shortly after a gun battle with 500 hundred city police officers ensued.


BY YOUR SIDE (USA, 16, 2021)
Filmmakers: Mike Africa, Sr. (Michael Davis) and Debbie Africa (Debbie A. Davis)

Mike and Debbie Africa, members of the MOVE organization, created a documentary memoire to tell their own story. Having each spent 40 years in prison separated from their children and families, they examine the repressive political context that shaped their lives and more importantly how determination, clarity, morality and love allowed them to persevere and re-unite as a family.


Filmmakers: Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center and Scribe Video Center

Carole Williams-Green, a retired public school science teacher, is the catalyst to transform an abandoned horse stable in Southwest Philadelphia into a community asset, an environmental center. This film was produced as part of Scribe Video Center’s Precious Places Community History Project.