Hip-hop artists on film at MoMI in Astoria

The Museum of the Moving Image is celebrating hip-hop’s 50th anniversary with screenings of films that star legendary artists or highlight the musical genre in Astoria.

There is still time to catch significant films, meet special guests, and listen to discussions and spoken-word showcases in the Real Rap: Hip-Hop Star Power on Screen series.

This weekend, guests can see “House Party” on Sept. 16 and 17 at 6 and 4 p.m., respectively. The film truly captures the genre’s early-1990s social and fashion trends. Throughout the movie, rappers Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin of the group Kid ’n Play listen to hip-hop, battle-rap and get into a dance-off. Reginald Hudlin directed the 100-minute film and the screening will be followed by a panel discussion with record producer Ron Lawrence and Kid ’n Play’s deejay Mark “Wiz” Eastmond on Saturday. The talk is co-presented by the Afrikan Poetry Theatre.

“We told them that we would like to see ‘House Party,’” said Saiku Branch, the executive director of Afrikan Poetry Theatre, an arts center located in Jamaica. “Kid ’n Play are from the Elmhurst area. So we wanted to have a discussion on the movie’s impact.”

Lawrence, whom Branch invited to the discussion to talk about hip-hop influences in the film, has worked with the likes of Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z. DJ Wiz has been on the turntables with Kid ’n Play since 1987.

“Young people today even know about ‘House Party’ and I think they even did a remake for this generation,” Branch said.

“The people who were in the movie like Martin Lawrence and Tisha Campbell went on to do the sitcom ‘Martin,’” said Branch. “Coming from Queens, it represented what I experienced going to house parties.”

Branch said he went to house parties in Hollis and all over Jamaica.

“It captured the fun part of the culture before we went into an era of gangster movies that people think is hip-hop culture,” added Branch. “It was really about young people coming together, showing their talents, dancing, deejaying, rapping and just having fun. Love, peace and having fun is the real essence of the culture. I think it‘s great and that is why it did so well and is a classic until this day.”

“Just Wright,” a 2010 film featuring Queen Latifah and Common, showcases the hip-hop acts in a romantic comedy as a physical therapist and a basketball star. The movie, which clocks in at 100 minutes, was directed by Sanaa Hamri and won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture. It will screen on Sept. 22 and 23 at 7:17 and 5 p.m., respectively.

The John Singleton-directed “Poetic Justice” stars Tupac Shakur, Janet Jackson and Q-Tip of the rap group A Tribe Called Quest. The movie is 109 minutes and will screen on Oct. 6 and 7 at 6 and 1: 30 p.m., respectively. The romantic drama features Shakur as an aspiring musician who works as a postal worker and falls for Jackson’s Justice, a hairdresser, who has difficulty emotionally opening up to the world around her. A spoken word showcase featuring African Peach Arts Coalition will precede the film.

Hip-hop icon Lauryn Hill stars in “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” as a student at the St. Francis Academy under the tutelage of Deloris Van Cartier, played by Whoopi Goldberg, who reprises the role a year after the 1992 blockbuster “Sister Act.”

Directed by Bill Duke, the 107-minute film also stars Sheryl Lee Ralph of “Abbott Elementary” fame and features a riveting performance of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” by Hill. The film will screen on Oct. 14 and 15 at 12:45 and 1 p.m., respectively.

The last film in the series is “Ghosts of Mars” starring Ice Cube. Directed by John Carpenter, the 98-minute 2001 film takes place on a terraformed Mars. Blaxploitation siren Pam Grier and action movie star Jason Statham play prison escorts on the fourth rock from the sun and require the N.W.A. rapper’s help when a group of feral raiders becomes hostile. The film screens on Oct. 20 and 21 at 7:15 and 5:30 p.m., respectively.

The other movies that will screen at MoMI include the 50 Cent semi-autobiographical film “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” starring the rapper on Sept. 29 and 30 at 7 and 4 p.m., respectively, and “Slam,” on Oct. 7 and 8 at 4 and 3:30 p.m., respectively. “Slam” stars rapper and musician Saul Williams during the height of the slam poetry era.

To learn more about these films and the hip-hop film screening at MoMI, which is located at 36-01 35 Ave., visit movingimage.us/series/real-rap.

Austin Smith, special assistant to the museum’s executive director, and Tiffany Joy Butler, MoMI assistant curator of public programs, organized the event.

“From an early age, I’ve been fascinated by the power of hip-hop music and its poetic, energetic ability to call our attention to pressing issues in society,” Butler said in a statement. “Together with Austin, I am beyond excited to share this screening series that honors the talents of film and hip-hop music stars with audiences in Queens and beyond.”

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