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Film festival honors African-American filmmakers

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Diversity and inclusion are important attributes of any good film festival, and the 39th annual Nashville Film Festival’s Salute to Black Filmmakers event Saturday afternoon is an important element in that area. This event not only includes the special screening of a vital new documentary, but will also offer a special tribute by the Rossi Turner Dance Theater & Company.

Things get underway at 4:45 p.m. with a screening of Elvis Mitchell’s highly anticipated The Black List, one of the major hits from this year’s Sundance Festival. It profiles the lives, thoughts, accomplishments and views of some 20 distinguished figures from various professions, backgrounds and disciplines. Subjects range from prize-winning author Toni Morrison to comedian Chris Rock, activist and radio host Rev. Al Sharpton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who’s gone from being the leading scorer in the history of pro basketball to penning celebrated books about African-American heroes.

Former Tennessee Titan Chris Sanders is hosting the event, while the Rossi Turner Dance Theater & Company’s performance will be another highlight. Turner is an internationally recognized and admired figure in the worlds of both dance and theater, and has previously choreographed routines and performances for such events as the Dove & Stellar awards, as well as programs on BET and the Disney Channel.

A member of the International Association of Blacks in Dance, he’s also been a contributor to productions by Barry Scott’s Negro Playwright Theatre group of Fences and Harlem Voices. This summer Turner’s new A.R.T.S. studio will open in Nashville, and he’s also Education Director for the Boys and Girls club at Vine Hill.

The Black List is just one of 11 outstanding African-American films competing this year for the Rosetta Miller Perry award, an honor given in recognition of the pioneering journalist and community activist, as well as longtime publisher of The Tennessee Tribune.

Some recommendations among other films in this series include:

Jump!: The visually dazzling world of competitive jump roping gets full scrutiny in Helen Hood Scheer’s (who will be in attendance) excellent documentary that takes the audience right up to the national championship through the eyes of two teams from Cincinnati, Ohio. (4:15 p.m. April 18, 3:15 p.m. April 19,)

The Assassin: Tennessee State University graduate and onetime Nashville native turned New Yorker Devin E. Haqq (who will be in attendance) directed this stylish look at a hit man on the run trying to evade both cops and former employers following a botched job. (9:30 p.m. April 20, 4:30 p.m. April 23)

Shake The Devil Off: New Orleans’ St. Augustine Church, the city’s first integrated congregation among Catholics, must wrestle with the future following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Peter Entell’s film follows the politics and machinations behind the decision. (6:45 p.m. April 20, 3:30 p.m. April 21)

Urban Assault: Escape From Poverty: Rob McDonald’s important Nashville film examines the current state of poverty in Music City, including interviews with everyone from Police Chief Ronal Serpas to community leaders, homeless citizens and community activists. After this look at the hard life from Edgehill’s projects to East Nashville, there should be no doubt that this is not only a national problem, but a local one as well. McDonald will be in attendance. (6:45 p.m. April 18, 4:45 p.m. April 24)

SOURCE: Nashville City Paper

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