For kids in our hometown of Wilmington, NC that love chess, even a summer thunderstorm couldn’t keep them from coming out to play the game in the park and watching an outdoor screening of Brooklyn Castle. Thanks to our co-hosts for the event, Cape Fear Independent Film Network, we had four big tents to keep us dry while students from local elementary and middle schools competed against one another on the chess board. The kids and their families had a great time competing before the film, and by the time we were ready to start the movie the skies had cleared.
This Brooklyn Castle screening was part of our work with the Reel Education collective. We’re supporting the work of nine documentary filmmaking teams whose films are engaging educators, parents, youth, and policy makers in actions to improve the quality of education in their communities and in the nation as a whole. This screening certainly advanced the mission of the project. In addition to being a lot of fun, the screening helped make connections between organizations which will ultimately lead to more kids being exposed to chess and other high quality enrichment programs in the Wilmington community.
The audience heard from teachers George Preiss and Doris Flowers about how the students at Noble Middle School and Pine Valley Elementary benefit from being part of their chess clubs. Then, principal Eric Irizarry and enrichment coordinator Cameron Bolish from newly reopened D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, a public middle school serving inner city Wilmington, talked to the crowd about how they need additional support and advisers for their fledgling chess club. Steve Morales, head of the Wilmington Chess Club, was there and willing to provide assistance to them and other schools in the area that are starting clubs. He and the other members of the club are trying to do more to support scholastic chess in Wilmington, and the Brooklyn Castlescreening was a great way for him to network with folks, like the leaders from Virgo, who could use their help. Things will get more exciting on the local scholastic chess front this fall. Mr. Morales announced a sanctioned scholastic tournament that the group is hosting at nearby Wrightsville Beach in November, and that some of the kids who played chess at the screening will be participating. We also had youth from DREAMS, an amazing after-school program that serves many kids from across our school district, represented at the screening. Students from their teen council volunteered to setup at the event and got a shout out before the screening.
It was a fun evening for all involved, where a sizable crowd got to see this amazing film and make connections to after-school programs in our community. We’re looking forward to doing more screenings of other Reel Education films to support efforts to improve education for all kids in our local area.
Almost every film we work with tells a unique story of people fighting for social or environmental justice in their communities. Our job is to make those local stories resonate with folks in other places across the country and around the world. Our goal: help audiences make connections between what they see on the screen and what’s happening in their towns, motivating them to take action.
So when free speech came under attack in Working Films’ hometown of Wilmington, N.C. we knew we had to share this story with our friends and allies.
We have been inspired by two of our neighbors who refuse to be silenced and intimidated, and we hope that they will motivate you to speak up on issues of concern wherever you live. Engaged citizens educating themselves and speaking out on community issues is the root of strong democracy and at the heart of what we do at Working Films.
If you want to support Kayne Darrell and Dr. David Hill’s legal defense fund you can donate at fighttitan.com. If you want to learn more about the controversy around the building of the cement plant you can read the back story from our local paper, the Star News.
Hollis Briggs, Valeria Hale, Denise Hale and Mildred Bethea. Photo by Ken Blevins (courtesy of the Wilmington StarNews)
Every year, Wilmington’s Martin Luther King Jr. Parade marches down Castle Street, starting at the Working Films offices in the old firehouse on 5th Avenue. Each year, our firehouse serves as the “green room” for the parade, with coffee and donuts for the organizers and volunteers. This year, parade organizer Hollis Briggs wants to use the parade to raise awareness of Bone Marrow Cancer and the pressing need for donors especially within minority communities. The Wilmington StarNews published a story today sharing the story of Denise Hale and her bone marrow transplant. (That’s the Working Films’ firehouse in the background of the photo.)
Working Films is proud to be coordinating panel discussions after two films at the Cucalorus Films Festival in our hometown of Wilmington, NC. Named one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by Movie Maker Magazine, Cucalorus runs November 11th-15th at venues across city.
Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama that uncovers the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Crude will screen at 10am Thursday November 12th.
In Off and Running, when adopted teen Avery’s curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known. Off and Running will screen Sunday November 15th at 4pm.
For each film we aim to bring the issues home for the audience and make connections between the stories in the film and salient local issues.
Rhonda Bellamy, Festival Director of the Cine Noir Festival of Black Film has announced that the deadline has been extended due to several late inquiries. The entry deadline is now February 6, 2009. The festival will be held March 12-15, 2009 in Wilmington, NC, the third largest filmmaking community in the country. The juried and invitational festival showcases features, shorts, animation, and documentary films. Prizes of $500 will be awarded in each category, provided there is a minimum of three entries that will be screened in any given category.
Working Films has partnered up with the Cucalorus Film Festival to provide a Works-In-Progress category, which gives filmmakers an opportunity to test their work before an audience – at many different stages of production. Working Films will be hosting free screenings of The Wounded Come Home, Cape Wind, and The Appropriate Genius. We will be facilitating a Q&A after each film with the filmmaker and community organizations. The Cucarolus Film Festival is November 12-15th 2008 in Wilmington, NC.