The University of the District of Columbia's Black Film Institute begins its Spring 1980 Film and lecture series tonight.

Films selected for the spring series cover a range of subjects that provide important perspective on the way black and Third World people have been depicted in the cinema arts, according to Tony Gittens, director of the Black Film Institute.

Among the guest lecturers scheduled to provide comments on the films are Charles Cobb Jr., a journalist who has specialized in Southern Africa affairs (tonight); the Rev. Ben Chavis, the last member of the Wilmington 10 to be released from a North Carolina prison (March 20); Julian Euell of the Smithsonian Institution (April 17), and Clayton Riley, a New York writer and critic (May 8).

The film and lecture presentations will be held each Thursday through May 8, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Minor Auditorium, 2565 Georgia Ave. NW.

The Black Film Institute will also present special programs to persons of limited mobility.

Lorton Reformatory residents will be shown BFI presentations on March 21, April 18 and May 10. Film programs will also be presented March 18 at the Barney Senior Center, 1737 Columbia Rd. NW, at 10:30 a.m.; March 19 at the Model Citizens Center, 35 K St. NW, at 12:30 p.m., and March 20 at Fendell House, 2025 Fendell St. SE, at 12:30 p.m.

In addition, a festival of black films for the young viewer will be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 9th and G Streets NW.

All regular and special events are free and open to the public, except for the Lorton program. The film series is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the D.C. Commission for the Arts and Humanities.

The following films will be shown:

Tonight: "South Africa: The White Laager Man of Leather" (Brazilian).

March 20: "The New Klan."

March 27: "The Last Supper."

April 3: "One Way or Another" (Cuban) and "My Survival as an Aborigine" (Australian).

April 10: "Chac" (Chilean).

Aprill 17: "Mingus" (documentary) and "St. Louis Blues," a short film featuring Bessie Smith.

April 24: "Forward Together" (Jamaican) and "Puerto Rico: Paradise Invaded," (a Puerto Rican documentary).

May 1: "Ganga Zuma" (Brazilian) and "Iawo" (short, Brazilian documentary).

May 8: "Putney Swope" (American).

For more information, call Tony Gittens at 727-2396.