(LOS ANGELES)—Celebrating 100 years of advocacy on free expression, free speech, and literary culture, PEN America will present a discussion “Censored: Free Speech and Hollywood” on Wed., Nov. 16 at the Central Los Angeles Public Library (630 W. 5th St.) in its ongoing nationwide Flashpoints series examining the intersection of free speech and civil liberties.

The in-person discussion from 6-7:30 pm PT will feature filmmaker, writer, and film programmer Gillian Wallace Horvat as moderator with three panelists: attorney and author Jeremy Geltzer; Gerald Horne, Moores Professor of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston; and Maya Montañez Smukler, head of the UCLA Film and Television Archive Research and Study Center.

Throughout film history, questions over who has access to filmmaking, to studios and financial support have risen as a form of de-facto silencing of certain voices and stories.

When cities and states began creating censorship boards, Hollywood embraced its own code of conduct with the Hays Code in the 1930’s. In the McCarthy era of the 1950’s, alleged communists were forced out of Hollywood through blacklists.

By reviewing legislation and court decisions, exploring blacklisted artists, and the opening up of representation in the late 20th century, the discussion will explore controversies around representing some themes and subjects–obscenity, disfavored political ideologies, women’s sexuality, and more—along with the dangers of state-driven attempts to define ‘acceptable’ topics for creative expression.

After the talk, the audience is invited to a reception featuring a cash bar and light refreshments in Central Library’s Children’s Courtyard.

The event is presented in partnership with the Los Angeles Public Library, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, and the Writers Guild Foundation.

PEN America’s centenary began last May 23 in New York at its annual Literary Gala, which was highlighted by the unveiling of a fireproof edition of Margaret Atwood’s best seller The Handmaid’s Tale (sold by Sotheby’s for $130,000 to benefit PEN’s work) and continues through the 2023 gala next May. The commemoration included an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society PEN America at 100; a daylong public symposium Words on Fire in New York City with a lineup of literary stars including Margaret Atwood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ayad Akhtar, Jennifer Finney Boylan, and Dave Eggers, among others; as well as Flashpoints, which continues in cities nationwide through 2023.

What: PEN America Discussion: Censored: Free Speech and Hollywood

Who: Moderator: Filmmaker, Writer, Film Programmer Gillian Wallace Horvat with Scholars and Authors Jeremy Geltzer, Gerald Horne, and Maya Montañez Smukler

When: Wed., Nov. 16, 2022 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm PT

Where: Central Los Angeles Public Library 

630 W. 5th St. Los Angeles, CA, 213-882-7000


About PEN America,

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057