Late R&B icon Prince did something most of his musical contemporaries could only dream of: He starred in a critically acclaimed hit film that won an Oscar and even spent some time behind the camera as a director. The African-American Film Critics Association will celebrate his cinematic legacy at events through the end of the month.
The loss of music icon Prince Rogers Nelson, who died one year ago this week, still runs deep for millions of devoted fans. Many have reflected on the Purple One’s memory through his vast collection of songs.
The African-American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), on the other hand, is trying to do so with film. During his peak period in the 1980s and early 1990s, Prince starred in three dramatic works (Purple Rain, Graffiti Bridge, and Under the Cherry Moon) and one concert film (Sign o’ the Times)—and for each film other than the Oscar-winning Purple Rain, he was credited as director.
Starting Friday, AAFCA will sponsor showings of the artist’s dramatic films at a number of museums and libraries through the end of the month.
This weekend, the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, and the Blair-Caldwell Public Library in Denver will host events honoring Prince’s film work, while the African-American Research Library in Broward County, Florida, and Atlanta’s Auburn Avenue Research Library will do the same next weekend.
In comments to The Root, AAFCA President Gil Robertson noted that Prince’s film success was relatively rare, especially because he had a major hit film under his belt.
“Prince was one of the few black musicians who enjoyed success in cinema,” Robertson noted. “His aptitude as a visual artist was stunning and continues to be influential today. It is both a privilege and an honor to share his cinematic works with our community partners around the country.”
(We’ll overlook the five Golden Raspberry Awards Under the Cherry Moon won, and point out instead that Purple Rain is the last film to win an Oscar for Best Original Song Score—putting it in the esteemed company of West Side Story, Let It Be, and The Sound of Music.)