Ralph Ellison's King of the Bingo Game

It is Harlem, 1943, and Sonny must win the bingo prize at the local movie theater to save his pregnant wife from dying.

Premiere Date
November 21, 1999
30 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2000 Juneteenth Film Festival-Melvin Van Peebles Award
  • Producer

    Elise Robertson


    Charlie Schroeder

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    The Film

    Harlem, 1943. Sonny is a struggling African American who frequents the movie house/bingo parlor in a desperate attempt to provide for his family in post-Depression era New York. He hits the jackpot and is called onstage to spin the prize wheel. As he pushes the button to spin the wheel, he experiences a new sense of control over his destiny which transcends his race and social standing, and he is unable to let go. Based on a short story, Ralph Ellison's King of the Bingo Game is a chilling metaphor for the disenfranchisement of the African American community after Emancipation promised freedom and before the Civil Rights movement called that promise to task.