Black film festival draws talented artists from across the country

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

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"Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till" will be shown on the opening night of the North Carolina Black Film Festival, scheduled for March 15-18 at the Cameron Art Museum and Hannah Block Historic USO.

The North Carolina Black Film Festival will bring together the best feature length films, shorts and documentaries produced by black filmmakers across the United States to Cape Fear audiences for the 11th year. Festival director and local arts enthusiast, Rhonda Bellamy, said she takes pride in providing another outlet for independent artists to showcase their work.

"A lot of these films that we show would never be seen without the film festival circuit," she said. "We pride ourselves on being able to trend whatís going on in terms of black filmmaking and being right on the cutting edge."

This year, Bellamy is especially excited about the festivalís opening night selection ó "Dar He: The Lynching of Emmett Till" ó a true-crime feature-length film by a collection of North Carolina filmmakers that features Mike Wiley as the lone actor playing 36 different roles.

For the documentaries, Bellamy said that University of North Carolina Wilmington professor, Dr. Maurice Martinez, has submitted two entries for the festival this year.

"We have some strong documentaries this year, including two from one of our most prolific filmmakers, Dr. Maurice Martinez, titled "Black Frauline" and "Have Mercy Dr. Percy," Bellamy said.

"Have Mercy Dr. Percy" is about the late Percy Heath, a Wilmington native and legendary jazz performer whose brothers, Tootie Heath and Jimmy Heath played Thalian Hall on
March 10 and will remain in town for the festival.

This year, the festival will also honor Wiley, Eleanor Nichols and Cecil Brown with achievement awards in acting, production and screenwriting, respectively.

Bellamy said, "In terms of our growth, itís evidenced by the filmmakers that we have honored and who have joined us over the years, like Anthony Hemingway, Ava DuVernay, Dwayne McDuffie, and Giancarlo Esposito," Bellamy said. "Last year we asked Ava which of the many film festivals she attends were her favorite, and she said that ours was fast becoming one of those because of the intimacy."

The festival is a juried contest and the winner of each category will receive a $500 cash prize. Bellamy said the overall success of the festival would not have been possible without the support of organizations like the Landfall Foundation, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Cameron Art Museum and UNCW.

The N.C. Black Film Festival will be held March 15-18 at the Cameron Art Museum on Thursday and Sunday, and at the Hannah Block Historic USO on Friday and Saturday. There will also be a Kiddy Cinema session from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday that will feature shorts and films appropriate for children.

For more information and tickets, visit .

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