Diana Ross

Diana Ross in 1976, two years before starring in "The Wiz"

No summer is complete without a movie screening in a Chicago park, and at the tail end of this one, the Park District is offering two local options: a trio of Chicago-focused short films Saturday night in Hyde Park's Stout Park, 5446 S. Greenwood Ave., and the 1978 musical "The Wiz" Thursday night behind the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Drive.

The show at Stout begins at 8 p.m. with "Kenya's Symphony," an animated short about a girl and her mother at the symphony. Then comes "A Galaxy Sits in the Cracks," about Afrofuturism and youth engagement in Chicago, Detroit and Durham, North Carolina, followed by "Mama Gloria," a biographical short about South Side Black transgender activist Gloria Allen.

“The Wiz,” of course, is the silver screen adaptation of the 1970s Broadway musical, itself inspired by L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Made at the height of the blaxploitation era (the movie's commercial and critical failure heralded the period's end, though the Sun-Times's Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars at the time), it nevertheless became a cult classic, in large part due to starring roles by Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Richard Pryor and a 19-year-old Michael Jackson.

"Some churlish souls (suggest) that 'The Wiz' strains our credibility too much," Ebert wrote. "Pay no attention: Critics like that wouldn't know a yellow brick road if they saw one."

Its screening also begins at 8 p.m. 

In accordance with public health guidelines, participants must wear masks and socially distance while watching the films, and those with COVID-19 symptoms are asked to stay home.

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