African-American Experience

AnnapolisFilmFestival Blog, Films, News & Updates

Five Decades of Ground Breaking African-American Experience in Annapolis
By Mary Grace Gallagher

Immerse yourself in five decades of groundbreaking African American experience at this year’s Annapolis Film Festival.

Begin the film-going day Friday at 2:30 p.m. with BEFORE THE WEST COAST at Maryland Hall’s lower theater and watch the all-black 1967 St. Augustine High School Knights as they took on racist referees and desegregated the all-white Catholic High School Sports Association and went on to become the No.1-ranked football team in the state.

On Friday night, the African American Showcase presents the story of jazz pioneer John Coltrane, in Maryland Hall’s main theater at 7:15 p.m. Narrated by Denzel Washington, and featuring interviews with Carlos Santana, Common, Cornell West and Bill Clinton, CHASING TRANE was made with the support of his estate and is scored exclusively with his music. Director John Scheinfeld, who also directed “The U.S. vs. John Lennon,” “Beautiful Dreamer: Brian Wilson,” tells his incredible story, using home movies and rare footage from the 1950s and 1960s.

After Chasing Trane filmgoers can participate in a panel discussion. It will feature author and music historian Ashley Khan, a regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition and author of critically acclaimed books on major jazz albums, Kind of Blue from Miles Davis and A Love Supreme from John Coltrane. D.C Jazz Critic Willard Jenkins will bring his experiences as writer, blogger and artistic director of the DC Jazz Festival to the panel and jazz saxophonist, Art Sherrod, Jr. will be there to speak about Coltrane’s influence on contemporary musicians. Chris Haley, Director for the Study of the Legacy of Slavery for Maryland, Maryland State Archives, and nephew of Alex Haley, will also be on the panel. The African American Showcase presented by Dr. Alyson Hall, The Glaucoma

The African American Experience continues with the contemporary CHECK IT, about a Washington, D.C. based gang made up of gay and transgender youth who banded together more than a decade ago for self-protection. The film, directed by Toby Oppenheimer, will show at Asbury United Methodist Church at 9:45 p.m.

A number of the Festival’s shorts also contain themes relevant to the African American experience. Two such short films include VIDEO (Shorts 2: All the World’s A Stage, Friday, March 31 at 3 pm at Asbury United Methodist Church and Saturday, April 1 at 7 pm at Annapolis Elementary), in which a white woman’s racist remark is captured on video by two black teenage girls who threaten to post it online; and DEKALB ELEMENTARY (Shorts 3: To Be Or Not To Be, Friday, March 31 at 6:30 pm and Saturday, April 1 at 9:45 pm at St. Anne’s Parish House), a film inspired by an actual 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta.