Amanda Williams shares her perspective on the 1978 film The Wiz and illuminates its relationship to her work. Following the screening, she and Jacqueline Stewart discuss the film.

The Wiz  (Sidney Lumet, 1978)

The film version of the popular Broadway musical retells the events of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" through the eyes of Dorothy, a young African-American kindergarten teacher (Diana Ross) who's "never been below 125th Street." On her journey down the yellow brick road of '70s Manhattan, she encounters a garbage-stuffed scarecrow (Michael Jackson), a broken-down tin man (Nipsey Russell), and a cowardly lion (Ted Ross) posing as a stone statue outside a museum. Together, they seek out the Wiz (Richard Pryor), a powerful wizard living in Emerald City who may be able to help Dorothy get home. The Motown musical adventure includes music and lyrics by Charlie Smalls. Watch the trailer for The Wiz.


Amanda Williams is consumed with how combining art and architecture might help make all parts of the city thrive. Color is a central preoccupation in her work, with an evolving palette that is largely derived from the urban landscapes she traversed as a child growing up in Auburn Gresham, Chicago. Deeply invested in understanding the relationship of color, race, and space, Williams uses vivid, culturally derived colors to paint foreclosed and abandoned houses on Chicago’s South Side as a way to mark the pervasiveness of neglected and undervalued Black city space. A 3Arts Foundation awardee and recipient of a Joyce Foundation scholarship, she is a former Eidlitz Travel Fellow to Ethiopia and was a featured artist in Chicago Artists Month. Williams has exhibited and lectured at institutions including the Studio Museum in Harlem, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Syracuse University, and the University of Michigan, and she is a member of the board of the Hyde Park Art Center. A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Architecture, Williams is an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she recently received an excellence in teaching award.

Jacqueline Stewart is a professor in the Department of Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. Her research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including nontheatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She directs the South Side Home Movie Project and is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She also serves as an appointee to the National Film Preservation Board. She is currently researching the racial politics of moving image preservation and is also completing a study of the life and work of African American actor/writer/director Spencer Williams. Stewart is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, which has achieved recognition from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She participated in the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship Program, offered by Northwestern University, and the OpEd Project. She has also been awarded fellowships from the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholars-in-Residence Program. Stewart earned her AM and PhD in English from the University of Chicago and an AB in English with interdisciplinary emphasis from Stanford University. 

This program is presented in association with the Chicago International Film Festival and with support from ArcelorMittal.