Black Gold returns to The Paradise on Bloor Sunday, June 16th at 6pm with Bill Gunn’s two-part avant garde drama PERSONAL PROBLEMS (1980)! Join us for the Canadian premiere of the new HD restoration reconstructed from the original 3/4” U-matic camera tapes and featuring remastered audio.

This entirely African- American conceived and produced ensemble drama is the result of a collaboration of a pair of pioneering Black artists: writer Ishmael Reed and filmmaker Bill Gunn, the latter of whom wrote and directed the groundbreaking experimental feature Ganja & Hess as well as penned the screenplay for Hal Ashby's The Landlord. Operating in defiance of the racially exclusive Hollywood studio system, Gunn, Reed, and a renegade group of young Black artists including actress and writer Vertamae Grosvenor (who previously toured as a singer with Sun Ra’s Arkestra), Cotton Club performer Jim Wright, and composer and actor Sam Waymon came together to film a “meta soap opera” about the struggles of a working class African-American couple in New York City. 

Originally intended to air on public television in 1980, Personal Problems went unseen for many years until its recent restoration by Kino Lorber. Initially inspired by artist friends calling him and recounting their own struggles, Reed sought to create a vision of everyday Black life for television — as the writer told an audience at the University of Nevada in the spring of 1977, “everybody’s got personal problems.” Working with Walter Cotton, a Buffalo-born stage actor who was one of the original cast members of the New Heritage Theater Company in Harlem, and Steve Cannon, a staple figure in the Lower East Side arts scene, Reed began to develop what would become the first self-described Black soap opera written, acted, and produced by Black artists.

“... nothing short of a revelation.”

— Metrograph

“Bill Gunn’s intimate, free-wheeling “meta soap opera” examines the textuality of Black families and, by doing so, offers a deep reading of Black souls.”

— Black Film Archive

165 mins (presented with a 15 minute intermission)

(Courtesy of Kino Lorber)

** Low/fixed income Black folks — message @BlackGoldTO on Instagram or Facebook for complimentary tickets!

** PLEASE WEAR A MASK! Black communities continue to be disproportionately affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the structural inequities it further entrenches. We care for us! KN95 and N95 masks will be available onsite for guests.

Sunday June 16th, 6 PM/5:30 PM Doors

Door tickets are available for purchase on the day of screening. Refunds can be requested up to 12 hours before the screening. All refunds must be requested and processed through eventbrite.

Looking for pre or post show snack or sip? Check out our amazing options right next door!

Blue Door Wine Shop | Café Paradise

Directed by:
Bill Gunn
United States of America (the)
165 mins

There are currently no showtimes scheduled for this event

Indulge in pastries, breakfast and lunch at Cafe Paradise.

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Full-service restaurant Osteria Rialto serves up Italian dishes.

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Blue Door Wine Shop located in the heart of Bloordale.

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Enjoy craft cocktails in Paradise's Bar Biltmore.


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