The Rehoboth Beach African-American Film Festival (February 17 – 19, 2023) will celebrate the trailblazing work of black artists in shaping American culture, while taking an unflinching look at the roadblocks that may still exist. A fair and unbiased effort to expose any remaining violence still perpetuated against black communities while showing a hopeful way forward through justice and reconciliation. Recognizing that the Festival films are thought-provoking, we will feature two separate film authors and contributors for each film along with a few of the Society’s Planning Committee members for a deeper dive. We hope that you will stay and share your thoughts and we’re happy to host a post-screening reception for ticket holders on Sunday, February 19.
Festival Film Features will include:
Friday, February 17, 7 pm
Streetlight Harmonies is an entertaining documentary and journey through the bands, songs, and harmonies of doo-wop. The film uncovers a definitive period of music and the artists that defined it. Millions know the music but few know the artists and their history that laid the foundation for rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and built a bridge to the civil right movement. No other genre of music can conjure up the innocence of a nation, or the pangs of love quite like the timeless sounds of Doo-Wop. Streetlight Harmonies features interviews from artists Brian Wilson, Lance Bass, The Drifters and more. [2017, US, 83 minutes, Rated: G]
Alysha Prasad of A Room with A View, exclaims,” This documentary is truly a joy to watch from start to finish.” Nick Rocco Scalia of Film Threat remarks “It engenders great respect for the artists, and a desire not only to seek out and revisit the songs it features but also to go beyond the film's selections and uncover the rest of what doo-wop had to offer.”
An after-film discussion will be held with Lois Powell of the pop music group Chantels.
A MOST BEAUTIFUL THING
Saturday, February 18, 2:30 pm
A Most Beautiful Thing is an enlightening documentary based on the memoir by Arshay Cooper and narrated by Rapper/Actor Common that chronicles the first African American high school rowing team in this country. The team is made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, all coming together to row in the same boat. A Most Beautiful Thing is the winner of a 2021 Gracie Award, nominated by the NAACP for an Image Award, nominated by the Critics’ Choice Association (Best Sports Documentary), nominated by the International Press Academy (Best Documentary), and named one of the best films by Esquire.
The film explores not only the safety these men found on the water (where, as the captain reflected, “we were in a place where we could not hear the sound of sirens”), but the trauma of violence and cyclical poverty. It examines how these young men were able to support each other in reimagining a different future for themselves, and how rowing and the water provided the backdrop for that opportunity. These young men came together, after 20 years out of the boat, to race this past summer, not only to celebrate the team’s founding, but the fact that they are still alive. This is their story. [2020, USA, 95 min, Rated: Not Rated]
Kevin Crust of the Los Angeles Times writes, “An evocative hip-hop score, poetic narration by Common and crisp graphics appropriately underline the timeliness of the film.” Frank Sheck of Hollywood Reporter writes, “Powerfully demonstrates the healing potential of sports and the ways it can help bridge societal divides.
WHO WE ARE: A CHRONICLE OF RACISM IN AMERCIA
Saturday, February 18, 7 pm
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America is a galvanizing documentary interweaving lecture, personal anecdotes, interviews, and shocking revelations, ACLU deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson draws a stark timeline of anti-Black racism in the United States, from slavery to the modern myth of a post-racial America. The film also explores the enduring legacy of white supremacy and our collective responsibility to overcome it. [2021, USA, 117 min, Rated: PG-13]
FILM SHORTS – Sunday, February 19, 2 pm
Six films - 60 minutes
A VANISHING LEGACY: BLACK CAPTAINS OF THE CHESAPEAKE A compelling news story from WUSA9 (Washington DC) about an African-American head boat captain and black woman oyster farmer who fight to preserve a minority presence in aquaculture on the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. [2021, US, 4.15 minutes, Rated: Not Rated].
BLACK SWIMMERS OVERCOME RACISM AND FEAR, RECLAIMING A TRADITION
A fascinating documentary short about a new movement across the country that is reintroducing Black Americans to swimming. Studies have shown after decades of segregation, discrimination and lack of access have led to an alarming disparity: Black children today drown in swimming pools at a rate far higher than that of white children. The film tells a story of liberation and a reconnection to a rich history of swimming, through the voices of people seeking to change the pervasive myth that Black people don’t swim. Now new programs are working to overcome barriers and get everybody into the pool. This video was produced in collaboration with the Columbia School of Journalism. [2021, US, 8 minutes, Rated: Not Rated]
BLACK JOCKEYS AND THE KENTUCKY DERBY: A HISTORY OF RACE AND RACISM
In this intriguing short news story from WAVE News (Louisville, Kentucky), it teaches us about the history of African American riders that once dominated the sport of horse racing and how learning about this part of history may light a spark in generations to come. The story carries us through the years with interesting footage of actual races and takes us through Kentucky Derby Museum with amazing photos and memorabilia. [2020, US, 4 minutes, Rated: Not Rated].
The Black Jockeys Traveling Exhibit from the Kentucky Derby Museum will be on display in the CAT lobby.
Street Nights isa documentary short, directed and edited by Matt Baron of Baron Films,that dives into the world of street chess hustlers in Washington Square Park, New York City. [2016, US, 15 minutes, Rated: Not Rated].
A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION
Kris Bowers is one of Hollywood’s rising young African American Composers. At 29, he scored the Oscar-winning film “Green Book” (2018), and in 2020 he premiered a new violin concerto, “For a Younger Self,” at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. For all his success, he says that as a Black Composer, “I’ve been wondering whether or not I’m supposed to be in the spaces that I’m in.” In Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers's documentary short, A Concerto Is a Conversation, Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, Horace left his home in the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, navigated a path to become lifelong business owners in Southern California. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — just in case any question remained about whether it’s a place where they belong. [2021, US, 13 minutes, Rated: Not Rated]
An inspirational musical documentary by musician Brian Russo which features news footage dedicated to the incredible life and legend of Charles Tindley, known as the “Grandfather of Gospel” and “Prince of Preachers.” Mr. Tindley was born nearly 200 years ago in the quaint town of Berlin, Maryland when slavery was practiced as he faced impossible odds. Preaching was not his sole passion; he was also a lyricist and dedicated much of his time to composing powerful gospel music. [2022, US, 6 minutes, Rated: Not Rated].
A post film discussion will be led by Brian Russo
The mission of the RBFS is promoting cinematic arts and providing education and cultural enrichment for our community. The Film Society sponsors ongoing screenings, special events, and the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival (October 31-November 10, 2019). Having met all the requirements for best practices in nonprofit management, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society is accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute®. The Film Society is funded, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. The Division promotes Delaware arts events on www.DelawareScene.com . For more information on this series, other events, or to become a member, visit the Rehoboth Beach Film Society website at www.rehobothfilm.com , or call 302-645-9095.