Published Thursday, August 31, 2017 2:45 pm
by Ashley Mahoney
Where does film fit in an evolving city?
Charlotte’s literal growth manifests itself in its arts and culture scene with such projects as the ninth Charlotte Film Festival Sept. 22-Oct. 1.
“It’s an independent film festival that focuses on all aspects of film,” said Jay Morong, festival program director and senior lecturer of theatre and film at UNC Charlotte. “Our tagline is ‘discover different.’ The idea is to bring different stories and different types of film that you probably wouldn’t traditionally see in a major theater in town. That’s across the board in terms of documentaries, short films, narrative features, and also in terms of local films to international. It’s a regional film festival that takes the best of what’s happening in these large film festivals in other cities, like New York and Toronto and Berlin, and kind of trying to have a little piece of that here in Charlotte.”
Social justice through film has gained traction over the last three festivals.
“Last year we started giving a social justice award, and we partnered last year with the Southern Poverty Law Center to award a film that highlights social justice issues,” Morong said. “We’re not a social justice festival, but we want that to be clear within our vision of the festival, it’s part of what we’re looking to highlight.”
Another pillar of the festival rests in community engagement.
“While we are the Charlotte Film Festival, we are not a festival that includes films only from Charlotte,” Morong said. “Yes, there are Charlotte filmmakers in the film festival, but it’s not exclusive. One of the things community-wise is engage with the community, and this year we have two films with a direct Charlotte connection, which are specifically arts related: ‘Purple Dreams’ and ‘Live From the Double Door Inn.’”
A preview screening at Central Piedmont Community College’s Dale F. Halton Theater of the documentary “Purple Dreams,” which will run again during the festival, takes place on Sept. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds benefit the CPCC Performing Arts fund.
“It’s a documentary about a production of ‘The Color Purple’ that Northwest School of the Arts did,” Morong said. “They were actually the first high school in the nation to be given the rights as a high school to produce that show. It was also a big show for them, because they took that show onto a national competition and won.”
While the documentary chronicles that journey, it also explores the role of arts education in underserved communities.
“It’s really a documentary about how arts education specifically serves underrepresented, diverse populations in the Charlotte area, and how it’s a vital for these students,” Morong said.
“Live From the Double Door Inn” runs on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. at the Ayrsley Grand Cinemas and Ayrsley Commons. Ticket sales benefit the Community School of the Arts.
“A local production company made this documentary about the closing of the Double Door—this legendary Charlotte music institution,” Morong said. “It’s a short documentary about the history of the Double Door, and trying to close the door on the Double Door. Most of the footage is from the last month-two months that it was open, and talking to people about it closing, and the screening benefits arts education.”
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