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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Honoring the Reel

NC Black Film Festival
March 22nd-25th
Tickets: $5-$25
www.blackartsalliance.org

The North Carolina Black Film Festival may not get the hype of other festivals, but it hits all the notes of a successful experience—and then some. Now in its 11th year, it boasts an expansive lineup of animation, shorts, documentaries and feature films.

Formerly known as the Cine Noir Festival of Black Film, the North Carolina Black Film Festival (NCBFF) was founded by Rhonda Bellamy of the Black Arts Alliance in 2001. Since, the four-day juried and invitational competition of independent screenings by African American filmmakers has been a staple of our region. In addition to showcasing dozens of short and feature-length narratives, the event includes a filmmaker’s brunch, panel discussions, workshops and studio tours. Many of the filmmakers themselves will be on hand for Q&A sessions with the audience after the screenings, too.

NCBFF brings with it a competitive spirit to the festival, with cash prizes awarded for many best selections. Charlon Turner, publicity chair of NCBFF, says a non-juried music video category has been added to the 2012 lineup.

“We feel the music-video genre is a very good vehicle for filmmakers who are trying to get some experience or get into the business,” Turner says. “It’s a way for them to showcase and maybe get funding for a larger project.”

The program kicks off at 6 p.m. on March 24th with a CineMixer—a catered event, which happens to be free and open to the public at the Cameron Art Museum. At 7 p.m., the board will be honoring several artists with an awards ceremony. Among the notable honorees is Mike Wiley, star of this year’s opener “Dar He,” in which the actor takes on 36 roles in an acting tour de force in the telling of the tragic Emmett Till story from the 1950s. Raleigh actor Mike Wiley will receive the NCBFF’s inaugural Acting Award.

“This is the first time the festival has awarded an actor,” Turner explains. “Usually we honor filmmakers, producers—people working in production—but his caliber of work is deserving of it. He is a very impressive actor and he does it so that each character is individualized.”

The NCBFF will also be honoring Eleanor Nichols with the festival’s Nova Award for Production Achievement. Nichols served as production coordinator and supervisor on notable films like “Black Dog” and “Idlewild.” Last year, Nichols’ son, director Anthony Hemingway, received the festival’s Emerging Filmmaker and Zenith awards. Hemingway made a huge splash earlier in the year after directing George Lucas’ “Red Tails.”

“[Nichols] has been in the industry for such a long time, working at Screen Gems, doing a lot of production work in Wilmington,” Turner says. “While she was doing production coordination, she was one of the first African American people on set during that time. It was one of the reasons we wanted to acknowledge her, because she opened a lot of doors in [the industry].”

Cecil Brown will be recognized for his work as a screenwriter. The Bolton-native penned the classic Richard Pryor comedy “Which Way Is Up?” A 35th anniversary screening for the film is set for Friday, March 23rd at the Community Arts Center.

On Friday the action moves to the Screen Gems Studios, where there will be specially arranged tours of the studio and other film industry venues from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Film screenings begin that evening at 7 p.m. at the Community Arts Center.

On Saturday morning the event takes a moment to dish up some Southern charm, as the filmmakers talk shop at the NCBFF’s Filmmaker Brunch at the Community Arts Center. There will also be Kiddy Cinema, a five-hour block of film suitable for young audiences from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., also at the Community Arts Center.

“One draw to our festival is that we definitely have that Southern appeal and hospitality,” Turner says. “We actually get to tour the facilities—Screen Gems Studios and JVC. Getting the opportunity to talk to people at the studio, networking and learning is an incredible thing. The fact that the NC Black Film Festival has that is just one advantage over other festivals.”

2012 SCHEDULE

Thurs., Mar. 22nd
Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S 17th St.
7:30 p.m.: “Dar He” (70 min.)
Director: Rob Underhill
One man performs 36 roles in the telling of the Emmett Till story. Experience the story, trial and unbelievable confessions of those accused of Emmett’s murder in this riveting drama. A masterful performance by Mike Wiley, who will receive the NCBFF’s inaugural Acting Award.

Fri., Mar. 23rd
Hannah Block USO/Community Arts Center
120 S. 2nd St.
7 p.m.
“The Two-Fer” (41 min.)
“Which Way Is Up?” (94 min.)

9:30 p.m
“The Three Way” (86 minutes)
Director: Julian A. Renner
Mike arrives home to discover his girlfriend, Tasha, is back early. Chaos erupts when Tasha discovers a love note and some condoms in Mike’s jacket. Mike insists it’s all a misunderstanding until an unexpected male friend arrives at the front door.

Sat., Mar. 24th
Hannah Block USO/Community Arts Center
120 S. 2nd St.
1 p.m.
“Souls of Black Men” (67 min.)
Director: Erica Hayes
Six black men who grew up in the inner city have an organization called Black Man Society, which focuses on improving the living conditions of the people in the community. During one of their meetings, they begin to reveal to one another their personal struggles and conflicts.

3 p.m.
“Lock & Key” (9 min.)
Director: Dana Verde
A locksmith gets an anonymous call from a desperate young man who has locked himself out of his apartment. Reluctantly, the locksmith helps him and in doing so discovers that this young man is the key to solving his painful past.

“Honey Boy”
Director: Teri A. Burnette
The story tells of Honey Boy, a Robin Hood archetype who has a “high dollar” amount on his head. It is believed that Honey Boy is killed by an unlikely assassin, and his faithful, elderly mother is asked to go to town to identify the body. Based on the Jackie Torrence tale and starring Wilmington’s own Joyce Grear.

5 p.m.
“Toy Soldier”
“The Double”
“Black Fraulein” (25 min.)
Director: Dr. Maurice Martinez
The daughter of an African American soldier and a German woman compares her life in Germany with her life in North Carolina. Her story looks at America through the eyes of a bicultural, mixed-race woman.

“Have Mercy Dr. Percy: A Tribute to Percy Heath” (45 min.)
Director: Dr. Maurice Martinez
One of America’s National Treasures, Wilmington native Percy Heath was a stellar jazzman and an innovator on the string bass. The documentary includes footage from a workshop in Wilmington. During that visit, he received a star on Wilmington’s Walk of Fame, an honorary doctorate from UNCW, and the Living Legend Award from the Black Arts Alliance, Inc.

6 p.m.
“Stop, Look, Listen”
Director: Caleb Taylor/Ramona L. Taylor
A man deals with pressures at work and cannot shake them even when he arrives home; however, a simple gesture from his son reminds him what is truly important.

“Belated”
Director: Ramona L. Taylor
Gabriel Gray is on top of the world. He’s a celebrity with a nice house and beautiful wife; however, his past haunts him. His father was murdered on his birthday and his mother wants him to help track the killer; however, Gabriel is reluctant for his own reasons. All it will take is chance and a touch and Gabriel’s world will be forever changed.

“One Last Sunset” (45 min.)
Director: Kevin Richmond
Two sisters struggle to survive after an apocalyptic virus turns the remaining human population into flesh-eating zombies.

7 p.m.
“April’s Hero”
“Keeper of the Flame” (30 min.)
Director: Brian Nelson
The enigmatic Mardi Gras Indian culture serves as a pillar in the community and a symbol of strength. But when the Big Chief of a legendary Indian tribe dies unexpectantly, leadership challenges emerge.

9 p.m.
“He’s Mine Not Yours”

Sun., Mar. 25th
Cameron Art Museum, 3201 S 17th St.
2 p.m.
“Not My Son” (60 min.)
Director: Dwight Cammeron
The movie follows Birmingham resident Carolyn Johnson-Turner, founder of Parents Against Violence and its members over the course of several months. She founded the organization from the anguish she experienced when her 20-year-old son was shot and killed while attending a birthday party.

All-access passes are $25. Tickets are $10 for opening-night selection; otherwise $5 per screening block, available at the screenings.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Charlon Turner

    March 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    CINEMIXER is TONIGHT Thursday 6PM at the Cameron Arts Museum NOT Saturday. Reception is Free.
    Screening of “Dar He” at 7:30pm is $10
    http://www.NCBFF.org
    http://www.BlackArtsAlliance.org

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