'Central Park Five' Film Kicks Off Black Film Festival Next Month

Film festival takes place in Southampton from Nov. 7 to 10.

Central Park Five case Credit: Courtesy of Central Park Five film/Taken by NY Daily News
Central Park Five case Credit: Courtesy of Central Park Five film/Taken by NY Daily News

The eighth annual Black Film Festival, happening early next month, will feature films that further the mission of the African American Museum of the East End's mission to "treasure the past, tend to the present and transform the future," according to Brenda Simmons, the museum chairwoman.

Presented by the museum, the film festival opens on Nov. 7 with a screening of "Central Park Five," a documentary about the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping "the Central Park jogger," a white woman in Central Park in 1989. In 2002, a judge vacated the original convictions based on a new confession. The men filed a lawsuit, which remains unsettled.

Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns and Sarah Burns, the film chronicles the case from the perspective of the five teenagers for the first time. Interviewed in the film are the accused and their families, New York City Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, journalists Jim Dwyer, Natalie Byfield and LynNell Hancock, the Rev. Calvin Butts, and historian Craig Steven Wilder.

After the screening at the Southampton Cultural Center on Nov. 7 at 6:30 p.m., there will be discussion with panelists Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, Dr. Anael Alston, former NYS Principal of the Year and award winning educator, the Rev. Kirk Lyons, Sr., founder and Senior Servant Leader of BROTHERS KEEPERS, Kyle Braunskill, director of Safe Harbor (Prison) Mentoring, and Audrey Gaines, a local licensed clinical social worker. Admission is free.

"We're very excited about it," Simmons said of the screening, adding that she has always been interested in the case. Through her television show, "Voices of Wisdom," she interviewed Byfield and saw the film on PBS and felt it was important for people to see.

"Part of our mission of the museum is really to educate our youth," she said, noting that she has reached out to the local schools in the hopes students will attend.

Then, a live jazz show will be held on Nov. 8 at the Southampton Cultural Center. Charles Certain of "Certain Moves" will perform with Sheree Elder, along with guest poets, from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $20 per person to help fund the annual Black Film Festival.

On Nov. 9, the festival goes on all day at the Stony Brook Southampton Campus with films from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is completely free.

• "Beat the Drum," a 2003 film about a young boy orphaned after a mysterious illness strikes his village in KwaZulu-Natal, will be shown at 11 a.m. Director David Hickson; writer David McBrayer.

• "Beast of the Southern Wild," a 2012 film about a 6-year-old in the Bayou which earned four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, will be shown from 1:15 to 2:50 p.m. Director Benh Zeitlin; Producer Josh Penn.

• "Tug O War," a short film by KareemaBee, the 2013 scholarship recipient for the 20/20/20 film program at Stony Brook Southampton in association with Killer Films (Christine Vachon), will be shown from 3 to 3:10 p.m.

• “Roots” season 1, part 2 (1977), an Emmy award winning dramatization of author Alex Haley's 1976 novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family," will be shown from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. This episode was directed by John Erman and features Tina Andrews as Aurelia, Kunta Kinte’s girlfriend. A Q&A follows with director Erman and Andrews.

• "I am Slave," a 2010 film about a 12-year-old girl sold into slavery, will be shown at 4:15 p.m. Director Gabriel Range; Screenwriter Jeremy Brock

On Sunday, the festival wraps up back at the Southampton Cultural Center at 2 p.m., when Academy Award winning producer/director Nigel Nobel presents the world premiere of "Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall," a documentary about the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner at one of America’s oldest maximum security prisons.

Then, "Voices of Sarafina!," a 1998 documentary film made with members of the young South African cast and based on the 1987 Lincoln Center Theater/Broadway musical “Sarafina!” will follow.

Funding was made possible in part by Suffolk County Community Development, Stony Brook Southampton and the Town of Southampton.


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