Is Atlanta the New Culture Capital? by Candace Banks

This week Adweek will spotlight the city of Atlanta, GA. The magazine will release articles on Atlanta's brand marketing, technology, culture, and more. 

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Atlanta, GA is my hometown and I absolutely love it. There is always something to do and see here.  The city of Atlanta is full of experiences.  Hollywood of the south? New Silicon Valley? David Griner from Adweek explains,

"When your city is cool, it's an easy sell.  To businesses looking to relocate or expand.  To talented graduates considering their options on where to settle.  To filmmakers, artists, musicians, ad agencies, startups and many others.

And right now, Atlanta is steeped in cool." 

Red the full article and others on Atlanta here.

Review: Too Heavy For Your Pocket - New Play Written by Jireh Breon Holder by Candace Banks

Too Heavy For Your Program

Playwright Jireh Breon Holder is currently premiering his award winning play Too Heavy for Your Pocket on the Hertz Stage which is apart of The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta, GA. The drama gives a snapshot look at a group of friends living in rural Nashville, TN during the time period of the Freedom Riders.  

Bowzie, played by Stephen Ruffin, has just been accepted to Fisk University.  Bowzie's wife Evelyn, played by Eboni Flowers, is super proud of her smart husband and is hoping that this new opportunity can take her out of the local night clubs singing night after night.  Tony, played by Rob Demery, is Bowzie's hard-working best friend who has a history of stepping out on his wife Sally, played by Markita Prescott.  The two couples deal with hard life lessons when Bowzie decides he wants to join the Freedom Riders on a bus to New Orleans instead of getting an education.

This play is beautifully written. Holder really gives the viewer an inside look into the homes and hearts of people during the civil rights movement. The characters and the dialog is extremely rich and powerful.  Several times during the performance the audience is pulled into the play.  A literal 'Amen corner'.  Strong themes of love, family, identity, and justice are weaved throughout the two hour show.  Holder explains that the play was inspired by a conversation with his grandmother about the Freedom Riders and the current Black Lives Matter movement.  He wanted to explore the question of choosing to participate in large political movements or choosing higher education.

Playwright Holder is the 2017 winner of the Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwright Competition.  The award allows the winner to produce a fully staged production in the 200 seat Hertz Stage apart of the Alliance Theatre.  The program's mission is to nurture and launch young playwrights.  One of the most notable alumni of the program is Tarell Alvin McCraney.  His play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue inspired the current Oscar nominated movie Moonlight.   Holder will put on another play titled The Dancing Granny late summer at the Alliance.  The play is based on the children's book The Dancing Granny by author/illustrator Ashley Bryan.

Tickets to the show can be purchased here

 

 

5 Exhibits Not to Miss While Visiting Washington D.C. for The National Museum of African American History and Culture Opening Weekend by Candace Banks

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Celebration: Snapshots of African American Communities

American History Museum - 14th & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC

A special display of 25 photographs that reflect the diversity of the African American experience curated from the Scurlock Studio Collection and the Fournet Drug Store collection. 

Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten

American Art Museum - 8th and F Street, NW, Washington, DC

Thirty-nine first time exhibited photographs from the museum's permanent collection to include James Baldwin, Bessie Smith, Langston Hughes and more. 

In the Groove: Jazz Portraits by Herman Leonard

Portrait Gallery - 8th and F Street NW, Washington DC

This exhibition features photographer Herman Leonard's iconic images of jazz legends such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monkl and Sarah Vaughan. 

Currents: Water in African Art

African Art Museum - 950 Independence Ave., SW, Washington DC

Diverse and wide-ranging in material, time period, style, and intended use, the objects in Currents span the continent of Africa to explore the importance of water for both practical and artistic purposes. 

Senses of Time: Video-and Film-based Works of Africa

African Art Museum - 950 Independence Ave., SW, Washington DC

This exhibition features six internationally African artists looking at how time is experienced and produced by the body.  It includes works by Sammy Baloji, Theo Eshetu, Moataz Nasr, Berni Searle, Yinka Shonibare MBE, and Sue Williamson. 

For more information please visit si.edu.

Five Must See Events at the 2016 AJC Decatur Book Festival by Candace Banks

The AJC Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the United States.  Since 2006, the festival was hosted well over a 1000 authors.  The event includes book signings, author readings, live music and more.

2016 AJC Book Festival

1.  Challenges of Motherhood - Saturday 10AM

Join author Desiree Cooper and Carolyn Parkhurts as they discuss the many sides of motherhood.  Cooper is the author of Know the Mother which explores the many the roles of mothers.  It is a collection of short stories.  Parkhurts is the author of Harmony which details a powerful story about love and family bonds.

2.  Emerging Writers Stage - All Day

The Emerging Writers Stage will host dozens of authors both days.  The authors will cover various genres of books.  Presenters will include some of the best authors coming out and many are from the local greater Atlanta area.

3.  Confronting Ugly Truths - Saturday 11:15 AM

Authors Karen Branan and Ross Howell will discuss the impact of lynching on history.  Branan books gives a personal account of her family's role in a 1912 lyching of three black men a woman.  Howell novel tell the story of a black girl who was tried for killing her white employer and killed one day after her seventeenth birthday.

4.  Jacqueline Woodson - Saturday 11:15 PM

Bestselling author Jacqueline Woodson will discuss her new book Another Brooklyn.  The novel covers the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood for four girls.  Woodson will be interviewed by author Valerie Boyd who is most known for her book Wrapped in Rainbows.

5.  'A Race of Artists':  Examining Art and Social Activism - Saturday - 3:00 PM

A panel of multi-disciplinary artist will discuss their own artistic practices and the role of art in social activism.  The presenters include:  Isabella Alexander (writer/filmmaker), Morgan Carlisle (choreographer), Theaster Gates (artist/professor), and Clinnesha Sibley (playwright).  The event will be moderated by Christeene Alcosiba, a poet and librarian. 

For more information and the complete schedule please visit decaturbookfestival.com.

RECAP: SEVENTH ANNUAL BRONZELENS FILM FESTIVAL OF ATLANTA GEORGIA by Candace Banks

BronzeLens Film Festival is a platform that tells the many stories of film markers of color.  The festival is a place for those in front of and behind the lens to be educated and celebrated.  It also highlights the City of Atlanta as the new Hollywood of the South.

7th Annual BronzeLens Film Festival

WEDNESDAY:

The festival kicked-off with a special screening of #DigitalLivesMatter.  The film is a comedy featuring local Atlanta social media icons DC Young Fly and Emmanuel Hudson.  The screening included a star-studded red carpet at Regal Cinemas Atlantic Station.  The film was directed by Terri Vaughn who is most known from acting on The Steve Harvey Show and All of Us.  The screening was well attended and actually played on three screens that evening.   The film is available now for steaming at digitallivesmatter.com now.  Please support the movie. 

#DigitalLivesmatter - BronzeLens

THURSDAY:

Thursday featured 'All Shorts, All Day' sponsored by BET Networks at the host location - Atlanta Marriott Marquis.  I got a chance to see Gurl Talk and B Love.  Gurl Talk is about two best friends who are challenged by their husbands not to say a word at a very unusual time and place.  R&B singer Monifah is in the film and attended the screening as well.  B Love stars Brely Evans from BET's Being Mary Jane, Cory Hendricks, and includes some beautiful voiceover work by Eamonn Walker.  I thought the film was sweet and funny at the same time.  The film director Shahari Moore shared details about making the film including technical aspects and working with a small budget.   Thursday ended with a screening of Ringside at the Georgia Pacific Auditorium.  Ringside premieres Sunday, September 4th on TVONE at 7PM. 

FRIDAY:

The Women Superstars Luncheon was held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Ballroom and honored five superstar women of film.  The honorees were Cheryl Boone Isaacs (President - Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), Julie Dash (Filmmaker - Daughters of the Dust), Margaret Avery (Actress - The Color Purple), Nina Yang, Bongiovi (Producer - Fruitvale Station), and Dawn Gilliam (Filmmaker - Boyz in the Hood).  

Friday also included several workshops and masterclasses.  Filmmaker Roger Bobb and Julie Dash discussed the 25th anniversary of Daughter of the Dust; the first American feature film by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release.  Aspire TV sponsored a session with David Banner where attendees got a chance to preview his science fiction series Walking with Gods.  David also shared why sci-fi is important to the black community and how we should support each other especially in the industry.  

The day concluded with BronzeLens founder Kathleen Bertrand hosting the First Glance Friday screenings at the Georgia Pacific Auditorium.  The night begin with a viewing of Issa Rae's Insecure followed by a discussion with the creator.  The second screening was Queen Sugar followed by a talkback session with director Neema Barnett and actor Omar Dorsey.  

SATURDAY:

No film festival is complete without awards.  The winner for each category is listed below:

  • Best Web Series - Coffee x Cream
  • Best Documentary - Olympic Pride - American Prejudice 
  • Best Short - Ugly
  • Best International Legends of Ska
  • Best Feature - Destined
  • Best Student - Deus ex Machina
  • Best Actress - Constance Ejuma - Ben and Ara
  • Best Actor - Dorian Missick - 9 Rides
  • Best of Festival - Destined

Visit Bronzelens.com for the complete list of nominees and winners.

2016 BronzeLens Award Winners

Sunday:

The final day included screenings for Olympic Pride - American Prejudice at the Center for Civil and Human Rights and The Products of the American Ghetto.  Olympic Pride documents the lives of the 18 African American athletes who participated in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.  The film can currently be seen on Xfinity OnDemand and pre-ordered on Amazon.  The Products of the American Ghetto closed the festival out at the Georgia Pacific Auditorium.  Director Henderson Maddox and writer Tierra Ford attended the screening with several cast and crew members.  

Look out for more detailed recaps soon.  Did you attend the festival?  What were some of your highlights?