‘Harriet’ screening in Philly for free in honor of Black History Month

Cynthia Erivo (left) stars as Harriet Tubman along with Aria Brooks (right). (Glen Wilson/Focus Features via NPR)

Cynthia Erivo (left) stars as Harriet Tubman along with Aria Brooks (right). (Glen Wilson/Focus Features via NPR)

After success at the box office last year, Harriet, a biopic of abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman, is back in theaters across the country for Black History Month — this time for free.

The film’s distributor Focus Features is partnering with movie theater chain Regal Cinemas to offer two free screenings of the Oscar-nominated film at 50 locations nationwide. You can find the link for the free tickets here.

Harriet explores Tubman’s storied-connections to Philadelphia, retelling her trips leading people to freedom from slavery during the Civil War through the Underground Railroad — as detailed in Billy Penn. Much of the movie — written by Kasi Lemmons and produced by Debra Martin Chase — takes place in Philly, but was filmed in Virginia.

You’ll be able to catch the film free of charge on Tuesday, Feb. 4 and Tuesday, Feb. 11 after securing tickets to your preferred location through Gofobo. Regal UA Riverview Plaza in South Philadelphia is hosting Philly’s free screening.

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There’s much more to Tubman and her pivotal time in Philadelphia than most common retellings reveal, said historian and Tubman biographer Erica Armstrong Dunbar. Dunbar is the author of “She Came to Slay” — an illustrated look at Tubman’s life.

“One of the great things about this moment is that [both the film and book] are created by and centered on Black women,” Dunbar told Billy Penn. “I think that our vantage point gives us the opportunity to tell a different kind of story about Tubman.”

The film received two Oscar nominations earlier this month — one to Cynthia Erivo who plays Tubman for best actress in a leading role and one for the track “Stand Up” for best original song. This year’s Oscars ceremony is Feb. 9.

Last February, Marvel Comics-based movie Black Panther had free screenings at 250 AMC theaters across the country, including a handful locally. The film was lauded as the first comic book box office hit with a predominantly Black cast and Black hero. In February 2018, staff at Francis Myers Recreation Center in Kingsessing screened the movie for a group of Southwest Philly kids. 

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