Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #20

July 22nd, 2006  |  Published in Kay Bourne Arts Report


by Kay Bourne

161 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 A Roxbury son comes home. A son in Haiti comes of age. This year’s exhilarating Roxbury Film Festival has it all. Now eight years old, the event that started as the Dudley Film Festival (think Dudley Square), has branched out from its neighborhood roots to embrace the African Diaspora.

Billy Jackson, now of Pittsburgh, was shooting movies in Roxbury back in the 70′s. He returns to his old stomping grounds with a searing documentary feature.

The story begins with the consequences of DWB (“driving while Black”) in a city where the color of your skin is seen by the police as an indicator of criminality. “Enough Is Enough: The Death of Jonny Gammage” is about the struggle to end police brutality. Screening time is Friday, July 28, at 4 pm at Wentworth.

The 69 films selected from countless entrees also include the exceedingly well acted coming-of-age story from Haiti, “Le Gout Des Jeunes Filles (On the Verge of A Fever)” directed by John L’Eculer, written by famous Haitian writer/filmmaker Dany Laferriere.

This mesmerizing and memorable tale, set in 1971, follows the intense adventures of a 15-year-old school boy named Fanfan with a romantic turn of mind. His mom is straight-laced, religious, and very afraid for her son because her husband has been murdered by the dictator’s police force.

Across the way from their small apartment is the home of some fly, young women who spend their days and nights partying. Fanfan’s mom scornfully dismisses them as prostitutes but Fanfan is in love. Totally smitten, he steals out of the house to get a closer look at the bawdy night life of the Tonton-Macoute fascists cops and the ladies who have captured his heart. “On The Verge of a Fever” screens Saturday night, July 29, 8 pm at Northeastern’s Blackman Auditorium.

Do you remember Smokey Robinson’s song “Tears of a Clown.” Those poignant lyrics pretty much sum up the theme of RUSS PARR’s directorial debut, “The Last Stand.” This movie’s a winner too. Four young hopefuls go to L.A. to try their luck doing stand up comedy. It’s all laughs on stage but behind the scenes there’s lots of drama. Actor Guy Torry and the director will be at the festival opening night, Thursday, when “The Last Stand” is screened at 7 pm, July 27 at The Museum of Fine Arts.

Hail, Hail, the gangs all here! Roxbury’s own Robert Patton-Spruill has directed a gangster film “Turntable” that stars a skyful of Boston’s best actors, along with Tony Todd, who gives a chilling performance as an unforgiving club owner. (You may recognize Slade’s). “Turntable” is screened Friday, July 28, at 8 pm.

Another important entry from a Boston filmmaker is Claire Andrade-Watkins portrait of the Fox Point section of Providence, Rhode Island, home to generations of Cape Verde immigrants until times changed and homes were lost. Her documentary, “Some Kind of Funny Porto Rican,” is screened the final day of the festival, Sunday, July 29, at 2:30 pm.

Roxbury Film Festival website

by Kay Bourne
163 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 Why are our youth shooting at each other?

Ex-gang member, Mario Rodrigues surmises that it has to do with territory, money, and access to guns. Then, once the shooting starts, the desire to avenge the death of a friend creates a domino effect.

But, filmmaker John Oluwole Adekoje (pictured to the left) is also interested in the psychological side of violence.

So while Adekoje’s film shot in Boston, “Street Soldiers,” lets young people speak for themselves, you’ll also get some insight into the regret, anger, and sometimes, redemption that’s also a part of their story.

The 75 minute documentary “Street Soldiers” centers on a summer three years ago when the inner city saw some 1000 shootings, according to Rodrigues. He is counseling street youth to try a different way than the violence that sent him to DYS custody. You’ll hear from small children, teens, and adults in their 20′s as they try to puzzle out the violence that consumes their neighborhood.

The Roxbury Film Festival is screening “Street Soldiers” on Sunday afternoon, July 30 at 2:30 in Wentworth’s Annex Auditorium. A must see for youth, as well as those who work with youth and teens.

This is Adekoje’s third year in a festival he greatly admires.

“I’ve had films in lots of festivals,” he notes, “but the Roxbury Film Festival is unique. You’ll see everything from films for filmmakers who like to look at how each other is experimenting, to films that are meant to entertain and educate an audience. I’m very impressed with this festival. It’s a festival for filmmakers but the audience also is entertained and gets to meet people in filmmaking that they wouldn’t otherwise get to meet.”

Adekoje’s previous films also looked at street violence but in a way that mixed fact with fantasy. The mythology is absent this time. “I’ve focused on Cape Verdean youth who interest me because both they and I come from the same continent.” Adekoje is Nigerian.

He says “Street Soldiers” looks at how the youth of immigrants grow up in America and how their parents raise them. “The parents believe in the American Dream and they hold one, two, three jobs. The youth believe they know more about the American life style than their parents who are instructing them on how to live. The youth also have a lot of time without the parents around and that is the time that they get into trouble.” Adekoje adds that the youth want an activity center and see the film as supporting that aim.

Purchase tickets to Street Soldiers

160 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 There are a number of local filmmakers gracing the big screen at this years 8th Annual Roxbury Film Festival and they are filmmakers who you don’t want to miss.

They have been quietly filming, editing, scoring and working with local actors to bring their ideas and their visions out of the darkness and into the light at this year’s film festival.

TURNTABLE – by Robert Patton-Spruill and Patricia Moreno. This husband and wife team who came back to Boston to open the Filmshack, after a stint in LA, bring their new film, “Turntable” to this year’s RFF. Their highly acclaimed film, “SQUEEZE” screened at the first RFF, eight years ago, a film that featured one of this year’s special guests N’Bushe Wright. Looks like there will be some fun and exciting reunions at this year’s fest, as they return with their latest film that boasts the acting talent of many local actors.

T Wins – by Jabril Haynes. A short film with producing partner Nicole Parke. Haynes and Parker are no novices to RFF, they have been in two previous festivals and continue to create work and share their vision on the screen. This year’s entry, like much of Haynes’ work, has a socio-political message that creeps up on you as you watch it unfold. Haynes’ use of local talent and crew helps to keep folks working in this medium in and around town.

BY POISON – by Wendy Ward follows two souls who are trapped in limbo. The film takes place in 1775 Boston and explores the nature of collective memory and history. Wendy received a grant award from The Color of Film’s Mini-Grant Film Fund which helped her complete this project. Her filimmking is innovative, experimental and educational. She is a strong and thoughtful filmmaker whose work is genuine and socially motivated.

HERE’S LOOKING AT YOU: FLORENCIO – ART IS ME and PAULA & MARIE – HAPPY TO BE NAPPY by Lolita Parker, Jr. Photographer Lolita Parker, Jr. served as associate producer on these two pieces and brings to the screen a fresh new view of real life conversations about things we look at and discuss in everyday life. These stories are real and engaging and as a photographer, Parker has the eye to see the meaning in each shot and to capture the essence of a story.

STREET SOLDIERS – by John Oluwole Adekoje. John too is no stranger to RFF. He has been in the festival now, for three years and continues to produce and bring to the forefront issues and ideas that are near and dear to his heart.

MOVIN’ UP – by Rudy Hypolite. This film is an adaptation of a play wirtten by Irma Askew who is a member of the Women’s Service Club at 464 Mass Avenue in Roxbury – who’s club, during the 1960′s, housed women who migrated from rural southern towns to the city to gain employment as domestic workers. This film was also awarded a grant from The Color of Film’s Mini-Grant Film Fund and Rudy who works at Harvard University has been working on this film to bring to the screen the untold story of Boston’s rich history.

SELMA 2050 – by Jamal Hamilton and Dan Owusu takes a look at the Voting Rights Act and the continued struggle for civil rights. This docu-drama follows one young man from the march to the State House to a future, free of racism. This youth-produced film shows the importance of using media to teach history and engage the younger community in areas of politics and social justice. Dan Owusu is at Youth Voices Collaborative, a program that trains youth in media literacy.

SHEEP IN WOLVES CLOTHING – by Susan McDonald is a film that looks at whether African American youth are prepared to face a media environment that often demoralizes them. This is the first film by Youth Voices Collaborative director McDonald and was created as a tool to challenge the viewers ideas of how African American males are seen in the media and how viewers are influenced by those images.

SOME KIND OF FUNNY PORTO RICAN – by Claire Andrade Watkins is a documentary about the Cape Verdian American Story and the tragedy and scandal of three generations of immigrants from the Fox Point area in Rhode Island. From immigration to urban renewal, these families were displaced and cast aside for a new RI. A labor of love, this filmmaker and professor at Emerson College spent years bringing this story to the screen. A heartfelt look at these generations and their struggles rings true throughout the film.

AFTER THE RAPE – by Bonita Walker is a short documentary that explores some of the emotional effects that women go through after being raped or molested. Based on true stories ranging from hours after a rape to years later, the film tenderly explains that rape is not only a physical violation but also a violation to ones psyche.

MORE PROGRAMS/LESS LOCKUP – by Mishon Browne, Carlos Morino, Donsha Cureton, Ronneshia Bolden & Amilton Pires. This youth-produced documentary explores the issue of violence among young people as a top environmental justice priority. It takes a look at the Roxbury Environmental Empowerment Project (REEP), a project that has been waging a campaign for youth jobs and safe neighborhoods since 2005.

view Roxbury Film Festival’s list of films

162 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 Russ Parr and Guy Torry will be on hand and in the house for the Opening Reception on July 26, the Opening Night Film screening of THE LAST STAND on July 27, as well as at the Comedy Workshop on July 28 followed by the final screening of The Last Stand on the evening of July 28. Russ Parr, as many of you know, was HOT 97′s weekday syndicated radio host on RUSS PARR IN THE MORNING, before major program changes, and there are many who miss his humor and style, but will have the opportunity to spend some time with him at RFF.

Russ Parr and Guy Torry will run a comedy workshop entitled From Stand Up to Feature Film: How Comedians Cross Over. This fun-filled workshop will be informative and give the nuts and bolts of comedy and how you can break in to this nutty, wonderful and sometimes painful world. Friday, July 28th, at 4pm.

Guy Torry who hails from St. Louis will be on hand at the festival until the closing on the 30th. You will have the chance to talk to him, ask questions and participate in the Comedy Workshop. If you’ve ever wanted to be a comedian, think your funny or just plain like to laugh, come out and learn from these two pros about the ins and outs of the comedy business and how to get and stay on top.

N’Bushe Wright (from BLADE fame) will be joining the festival on Thursday, July 27 and will be here through the 30th, to do Q & A for the film “Restraining Order” that is scheduled to screen on Saturday, 6pm in Tower Auditorium at Massachusetts College of Art on Huntington Avenue. In addition, Ms. Wright will be attending the opening night screening of THE LAST STAND at the Museum of Fine Arts, and if we are lucky, just might pop in to the Acting Workshop that Michael Beach is running on Saturday morning at 10:30am.

Michael Beach, Roxbury’s own native son, is joining the festival on Friday, and will teach the acting workshop on Saturday, July 29 at 10:30 am. Are you a working actor? Want to be a working actor? Well, this is your once-in-a- lifetime chance to listen to veteran actor Michael Beach talk about his rise to fame and then, in an interactive workshop, get the opportunity to present 5 minute scenes to Beach who will critique them and work with you on what works and what doesn’t. Actors Workshop, Saturday, July 29th at 10:30am

How do you get your film in the hands of someone who cares? Come hear about the non-traditional ways you can get your film out in to the marketplace and who is interested. From Podcasting to Internet sites to coffee companies like Starbucks (who has taken on distribution in the indie film world, as it did the music world) to film departments in major museums to self-distribution. There are many other alternatives to get your vision seen and your voice heard. Saturday, July 29 2pm, Beyond Theatrical: New Opportunities for Distributionwill look at all these unconventional methods and give ways to get your film distributed and seen in a changing marketplace.

At 4pm on Saturday, July 29, The Business of Screenwriting panel will discuss how writing a script as an art form and actually getting it sold are two different things. The panel will look at current trends in screenwriting and what Hollywood is looking for. Come and hear real-life strategies for producing your screenplay. Purchase Tickets to RFF workshops and panels here

166 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 BEEN RICH ALL MY LIFE a film by Heather Lyn MacDonald, is an inspiring story of Harlem’s oldest dance troupe, The Silver Belles. These five ladies, aged 84 to 96, are a classy group of sassy hoofers who met in the 1930′s as chorus dancers at the famed Apollo Theater, the Cotton Club, Small’s Paradise and Connie’s Inn. There they learned their trade and performed with legendary bandleaders and performers including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. They also formed life-long friendships. When the dancers met up again in 1985, they discovered that they’d lost none of their moves — and their performances have been packing in crowds at the Apollo to Carnegie Hall. Director Heather Lyn MacDonald has created a loving, stereotype-busting portrait of age-defying women who have never wavered in their love of dance or of each other.

OSCAR BROWN JR.: MUSIC IS MY LIFE, POLITICS MY MISTRESS by filmmaker, Donnie L. Betts is a definitive look at the life and times of Oscar Brown, Jr. – jazz singer, poet, actor, composer, activist, radio host and senatorial candidate. Irrepressible, outspoken and extraordinarily talented, Brown lived life in the thick of things. While he shared the bill with such greats as Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderly, the self-educated Brown also took personal and professional risks few others dared to – at the height of his career he maintained an active affiliation with both the American Meat Packers’ Association and the American Communist Party. Brown was still performing regularly up until his death earlier this year, and this jazzy, high-energy biography keeps the spirit of this irrepressible master alive through rare archival and concert footage and interviews with the artist and his renowned friends and fans including Al Jarreau, Abbey Lincoln, Studs Terkel and Amiri Baraka.

Both films open Friday, August 4 at The Coolidge Corner Movie Theatre, 290 Harvard Street, Brookline. Call the Coolidge box office at 617-734-2500 for information . Coolidge Corner Movie Theatre website

by Cheryl K. Symister-Masterson
Fred Wesley & The Swing ‘N Jazz All-Stars

Trombonist Fred Wesley has been groovin’ through five decades of jazz, R&B, soul and funk, most notably with Soul Brother #1, James Brown. His new release with The Swing ‘N Jazz All-Stars, IT DON’T MEAN A THING IF IT AIN’T GOT THAT SWING , aims to delight with tight, tidy horn arrangements and a gentle swing, through standards and compositions penned by the players. Recorded by the Sons of Sound label to raise awareness of the music education initiatives of The Commission Project (TCP) in Rochester, NY, it spotlights artists who donated their time during the principal fundraiser for TCP last year – a weekend of concert, workshops and golfing. All eleven tunes are beautifully putted into play.

“Wicked Walk” is the leisurely paced opener with a fat-sounding solo by Wesely, followed by ones by baritone saxophonist Carl Atkins, pianist Mike Holober, trumpeter Marvin Stamm and guitarist Bob Sneider. Stamm, focusing more on jazz ensemble playing than studio work for the past two decades, offers a delicate treatment of “Body & Soul” with Holober. The group does its thing with “Par Three” and the title tune, driven by the tingly cymbal work of Akira Tana. Bassist Jay Leonhart contributes with the composition “Missin’ RB Blues”, written in dedication to bassist Ray Brown. It’s always a treat to hear him accompany his bass playing with his vocals. He gets cozy with another tasteful bassist, Keeter Betts, on “Just Squeeze Me.” (Like Brown, he held down a couple of long-term tenures with groups in his career) Betts passed away soon after this release was completed. His composition “Head Start” is a funky ditty that closes this outing by Wesley & Co.

Chances are that this group of in-demand players won’t be touring in support of this release, so add “It Don’t’ Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” cd to your collection as one of your easy listening picks for the laid-back summer ahead.

GROUP: Fred Wesley & The Swing ‘N Jazz All-Stars
CD TITLE: It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing
LABEL: Sons of Sound Production, LTD, 2006
FEATURES: Marvin Stamm – trumpet, flugelhorn;
Keeter Betts – bass;
Bob Sneider – guitar; Fred Wesley – trombone;
Akira Tana – drums;
Jay Leonhart – bass, vocals;
Rich Thompson – drums;
Carl Atkins – alto & baritone saxophone;
Mike Holober – piano

144 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #20 Our second shipment of The Official ONE LOVE dvd’s and cd’s are in and available for sale!! Below are comments from audience members at The Color of Film’s Official ONE LOVE dvd & cd RELEASE PARTY in March at RCC, where we had the co-star of the movie, CHERINE ANDERSON as our special guest:

“Fantastic. I loved it.” “…Thank you for opening that movie to the Boston community. It was REALLY good! Hopefully, more quality movies like that will come out of Jamaica and marketed abroad…”

“…a complete experience to come to a public setting and see a Black love story that ends on a positive note with such talented young people…” “…Better than The Harder They Come…”

“It was really an immense pleasure to attend the ONE LOVE event. I enjoyed watching a bunch of our young, Black people show-casing their talents. Also, I enjoyed the movie, including the young woman from Jamaica who played the lead role…She was wonderful…” “…Proud to be a Jamaican tonight.”

The Official ONE LOVE dvd and cd are the first of many quality, independent films and products available to you, through TCOF. The ONE LOVE dvd is $20 and the soundtrack is $16 by emailing an order to robin@coloroffilm.com or visiting The Color of Film website . Order ONE LOVE dvd and cd here


This summer, The Wang Center is kicking off an exciting new program: CELEBRATE SHAKESPEARE. It’s all about finding new ways of bring Shakespeare to new neighborhoods and integrating Shakespeare into people’s lives.

All ages will have the chance to act, play games, enjoy performances and more on Sunday, August 6, beginning at 4:30 p.m. at CELEBRATE SHAKESPEARE DAY at The Parade Grounds on The Boston Common, with three stages presenting community, youth and professional performances. Activities will include three workshop areas, for acting, stage combat and readings/poetry writing/cast Q & A sessions; strolling performers; information tables with interactive games and educational materials; and backstage tours of CSC’s The Taming of the Shrew set. There will be ASL translation of the majority of the event. Followed by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s f The Taming of the Shrew, which will be ASL interpreted, will begin at 7:00 p.m. For information on CELEBRATE SHAKESPEARE DAY, click here or call 617-532-1252.

“COLORSTRUCK: Boston’s 7th Annual Women of Color in Comedy” returns to Jimmy Tingle’s OFF BROADWAY Theater, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA (Davis Square) the weekend of August 4. BECAUSE HUMOR COMES IN ALL COLORS! Representing many ethnicities and a variety of viewpoints, ColorStruck is back by popular demand. For ticket info, call: 617-791-0959

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The Color of Film Collaborative is a non-profit organization that supports and fosters the individuals and organizations in the creation of diverse images of people of color in film, video, theater and other media, by providing artists with opportunities to exhibit, distribute and find funding for their work, as well as provide a supportive environment where they can share and develop their ideas, their vision and their work with their peers. About Us

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