SAVING GRACE (in postproduction) is a documentary by Malcolm Cammeron. The film is a glimpse into the life of Chari Bostick and her efforts to promote and preserve African American history in Gadsden, Alabama. Bostick started the Grace Heritage Foundation and has devoted her time to reclaiming an historic black cemetery in the southern Appalachian city. Southern Hills Cemetery, also known as Sixth Street Cemetery, began in 1826 as a burial ground for slaves. Bostick is also the director and curator for the Grace Heritage African American Museum, housed in the East Gadsden Community Center. The documentary project was supported by the University of Virginia’s Religion, Race & Democracy Lab.
FINDING THE CORNERSTONE is a look at the life and work of Wallace A. Rayfield, a talented architect, craftsman, artist, and entrepreneur. Born in Macon, Georgia, in 1873, Rayfield was the second formally educated practicing African American architect in the country. His most familiar design is Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church. The church was the site of the 1963 bomb blast that killed four young girls. The interest and discovery of Rayfield’s legacy took place in the fall of 1993, when Allen Durough, a minister was demolishing an old barn on his property in Bessemer, Alabama. Durough inspected the barn before the demolition began and found several hundred artifacts belonging to Rayfield. Over the last 18 years, Durough has faithfully documented the collection and attempted to find a permanent home for the material. Many of the structures Rayfield designed are still standing today.
SWAYIN (A music video tribute). Rev. Cedric Williams (and the Williams Brothers) of Cedar Bluff, Alabama honors his late grandmother, Lola Belle Bynum of Lebanon, Alabama. Swayin is one of several songs featured on their upcoming album. The emotional tribute is filmed at the quaint Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church and other picturesque locations around DeKalb County.
THE ELDORADO PROJECT is a collaborative interdisciplinary four-camera dance-theatre production, choreographed by Rita Snyder. The 2015 production includes images from the deserts of New Mexico, Utah and Nevada as well as photos from swamp areas in Alabama and Florida and the rainforests of Oregon and Washington State as visual background for the travels of The Knight. The choreography depicts The Knight and his encounters with The Shade as he travels across the country in his futile search for Eldorado.
APRIL’S HERO is the story of Robert Reed, the ultimate first responder after the April 27th, 2011 tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The tornado created a six-mile path of destruction and left 52 dead, but Reed pulled twelve of his neighbors from the rubble, throwing refrigerators and hot water heaters off of them. Reed moved into Crescent Ridge Mobile Home Estates in Tuscaloosa County in 2009. Residents were wary of him because of his background, but like many other times in his life, Reed won them over with his work ethic.
NOT MY SON. Not My Son follows Birmingham’s Carolyn Johnson Turner and her Parents Against Violence members over the course of several months. Parents Against Violence Foundation was founded on March 1, 2004, by Johnson-Turner as a result of the anguish she experienced when her 20-year old son, Rodreckus DeAndrew Johnson, was shot and killed while attending a birthday party. In order to cope, she and her members, women who have also lost loved ones to gun violence, are on a personal mission to prevent other deaths.
ERIC ESSIX: AT HOME. Jazz is often traced to the Big Easy; but defining its shape is anything but easy. So when the filmmaker set out to chronicle (in a one-hour documentary) chart-topping, record-breaking jazz guitarist Eric Essix, he ignored the occasional boxy documentary format and instead let Essix loose with his red Gibson hollow-body. The program follows Essix as produces Abide with Me.
TRYING TIMES: PERRY COUNTY SCHOOLS. With 52% of Perry County Alabama’s children living in poverty, the four schools educating those children are equally suffering impoverished hardships. “Trying Times: Perry County Schools,” portrays the humanized effect of Alabama’s legislative pitfalls and repercussions from September 10th, 2003’s, failed Amendment One (A Statewide Tax Reform Plan) education budget .
MOMENTS OF DIGNITY. Booker T. Washington established the photography department at Tuskegee Institute in the early 1900s, Cornelius Marion Battey was its first instructor, and P.H. Polk was Battey’s protégé. Discover Polk’s vivid, evocative photographs and see the unique perspective of Alabama life created by African American photographers at Tuskegee.
STILL HOLDING ON: THE MUSIC OF DOROTHY LOVE COATES AND THE ORIGINAL GOSPEL HARMONETTES. Birmingham’s Dorothy Love Coates was a vibrant performer, a prolific composer, and played a major role in shaping contemporary African American sacred music and worship services. During her 50-year career she wrote and published over 300 songs, recorded 20 albums, and her music has been recorded by musicians such as Mahalia Jackson, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, The Blackwood Brothers, Rev. James Cleveland, Buddy Rich, and the Statesmen Quartet.
I SHALL NOT BE MOVED: THE LEGACY OF W.C. PATTON. This program profiles 84 year-old civil rights activist, W.C. Patton. When Alabama banned the NAACP in 1956, Patton became the organization’s national voter education director and conducted crucial registration and education campaigns, before the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
THE LOWNDES COUNTY FREEDOM PARTY. The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland in 1966, but it traces its roots to rural Lowndes County in Alabama. This program remembers the efforts of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in this forgotten outpost in the civil rights struggle.