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Art And Culture Combine To Spread The Message Of Diversity

Originally Posted: November 17, 2008

Nicole B. Brewer
Edward Callaghan

Fraser Dougherty and Brenda Simmons. Photos by John Wegorzewski

The East End Black Film Festival returned to Southampton for its third outing at the Southampton Cultural Center and The Parrish Art Museum recently with a diverse program with a little something for everyone.

Presented by the African-American Museum of the East End, the festival kicked off to a packed house with a wonderfully moving evening of poetry, spoken word, and music at the Southampton Cultural Center. It was no surprise, given the recent election of President-Elect Barack Obama, that the audience was in a jubilant mood and ready to celebrate African-American contributions to our American culture. Entitled "Expressions with Class" the event featured a number of local poets and writers and soulful jazz by Charles Certain and the musicians of Touché.

Organizers Brenda Simmons and Bonnie Cannon showed a keen eye in their selection of films that were screened the next day at The Parrish Art Museum beginning with the inspiring story of African-American inventor Garrett Morgan entitled "Garrett's Gift", narrated by Queen Latifah and with original music by Coati Mundi of Kid Creole and the Coconuts fame.

Activist and producer Omo Moses and Albert Sykes

The Math Project founder and social justice activist Omo Moses, producer of the second film of the day, "Finding Our Folk," made a guest appearance following the screening with the film's narrator Albert Sykes. The film tells the story of young people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina who organized themselves to document the stories of survivors and their efforts to rebuild their lives amidst the devastation. The Q & A following the film was as powerful as the film as audience members realized the on-going problems of the survivors.

Other offerings included the groundbreaking classic "A Raisin in the Sun" directed by Daniel Petriewhich earned an Oscar for Sidney Poitier's depiction of a young Walter Lee Younger and his family who battle the prejudice of the 1950s while trying to live the American Dream. "Catch a Fire," a political thriller by Phillip Noyce, was a riveting retelling of the true-life story of a South African hero's journey to freedom. A short film on Gospel great Tangy Major was an uplifting revelation. The festival closed with "Cover," a suspense thriller about a philandering husband who may have brought a deadly disease to his wife starring Vivica A. Fox, Louis
Gossett, Jr
, Clifton Davis, and the incomparable Patti LaBelle.

All throughout the day filmgoers were treated to snacks and lunch by Gloria's Food - her baked beans and gooey chocolate chip cookies were the hit of the afternoon. But the most wonderful thing was to see how this festival has grown into an eagerly anticipated fall event by people of all backgrounds and colors. Congratulations to Bonnie and Brenda for this important contribution to our cultural understanding.


Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com HamptonsOnline NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer NicoleBBrewer




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