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African American Film Fest Kicks Off In Durham

Photo of movie cover for 'Black Beach/White Beach'
Southern Documentary Fund

One of the longest running African American film festivals in the country gets underway this weekend in Durham.

The Hayti Heritage Film Festival is entering its 24th year, and organizers say it is one of the biggest.  A main attraction this year is “Black Beach, White Beach,” directed by Ricky Kelly of Durham. One of the characters in the documentary describes the "biker" scene in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this way.

“There are two events in Myrtle Beach, Harley Week and there is Black Bike Week. One event is welcomed and one event was not welcomed.”

African and African American films from as far away as Tanzania and as close as Durham will be featured this weekend. A critically acclaimed film being presented is “Killer of Sheep,” by Charles Burnett. It focuses on the life of a slaughterhouse worker and the emotional relationship with his family.

“Killer of Sheep” has been declared a national treasure by the Library of Congress.

Other films at the Hayti festival include “The Tale of Four,” by Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe and "See You Yesterday," by Stefon Bristol.

"We believe in the power of images and image-makers to transform communities," said Lana Garland, director and curator of the Hayti Film Festival and the program director for the Southern Documentary Fund. She says communities can be transformed, "by providing a platform for exhibition for these artists who oftentimes struggle to get film distribution."

The Hayti festival also includes a master class for aspiring filmmakers. Events run through Saturday.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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