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10th Annual African American Film Festival To Hit A High Note

John Wegorzewski

The festival concludes will a screening of "Bessie." (Photo: www.facebook.com)

"Sing Your Song" is the theme of the 10th Annual African American Film Festival (AAFF) taking place Thursday, October 1st through Sunday October 4th at the Southampton Arts Center. Presented by the Southampton African American Museum, this is a seminal year of an event that has brought the richness of diversity to the cultural landscape of the East End.

The AAFF will kick-off on Thursday, October 1st at 6:30 p.m. with the East End premiere of the stage play "Martin, Malcolm and Me" by writer/director J.D. Lawrence, followed by a Q&A. Tickets are $30 in advance for adults, $20 in advance for children, $35 at the door for adults, and $25 at the door for children.

Friday, October 2nd will embody this year's theme of "Sing Your Song" with a spoken word/live jazz performances by R&B singer Cheryl Pepsii Riley, HBO Def and Grammy Award Poet J Ivy, Dynamic 2x Grammy Award singer/songwriter Tarrey Torae, and the jazz quartet Charles Certain and Certain Moves. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door.

Saturday, October 3rd will feature four remarkable films celebrating iconic African American artists that helped change both the artistic and political landscape of America.

The screenings begin at 1 p.m. with "Soundtrack for a Revolution," which tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement through the powerful music that emerged out of it, by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman.

At 2:30 p.m., "Marvin Gaye: What's Going On" will screen. The documentary on the iconic R&B artist was directed by Sam Pollard, who is an editor for Spike Lee and an NYU film professor and filmmaker.

At 4:15 p.m., watch "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks," an intimate look at the life and career of Gordon Parks, a true Renaissance man who has excelled as a photographer, novelist, journalist, poet, musician, and filmmaker. Directed by Craig Laurence Rice, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film's line producer Bruce Nalepinski.

The final screening of the day is at 7:15 p.m. "All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert" is a documentary on the artist Winfred Rembert, whose paintings depicted bigotry in America in the latter part of the 20th Century. The screening will be followed by a Q&A featuring the film's producer Vivian Ducat and the artist himself, Winfred Rembert.

Sunday, October 4th continues this year's theme with two films about two legendary African American performers, reggae innovator Bob Marley and blues queen Bessie Smith. However, the day's screenings open with a remembrance in tribute to civil rights activist Julian Bond who passed away in August of this year.

At 1:30 p.m., "Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement" will screen. The documentary by Eduardo Montes-Bradley will be followed by a panel discussion, "The Past, the Present Work of Julian Bond and How His Work Affects Today," with civil rights experts Natalie Byfield, Carol Spencer, and William Pickens III, followed by a Q&A.

The next film, "Marley," will start at 2:45 p.m. The biographical documentary about musician, revolutionary, and reggae legend Bob Marley was directed Kevin Macdonald.

The festival will conclude at 6:30 p.m. with "Bessie," an HBO film about legendary American blues singer Bessie Smith, which focuses on her transformation as a struggling young singer into "The Empress of the Blues." Directed by Dee Rees, Queen Latifah stars as Smith in this extraordinary film.

All films at the festival are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, however the final film "Bessie" is open to the public and is only payable by a donation to the Southampton African American Museum, at the door.

A VIP Package is available for $150, which include access to the VIP Wine and Cheese Reception on Saturday, October 3rd, plus enjoy guaranteed admission to all film screenings and the Spoken Word and Live Jazz performance on Friday, October 2nd. A Special Package is available for $100, which includes guaranteed admission to all film screenings plus the Spoken Word and Live Jazz performance.

Southampton Arts Center is located at 25 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, call Nancy Stevens-Smith at 631-428-1857 or Joann Humble 631-764-4792, or visit www.southamptonafricanamericanmuseum.org.

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