Join Longleaf Film Festival for an evening of Official Selection films that speak to current conversations on race and community as well as the art and artistry of the Black experience in North Carolina—and beyond. Watch virtually, as we screen narrative, spoken word, and documentary shorts along with segments from longer films. Register now for this event!
During the program, you’ll have the opportunity to engage in conversation with the following Longleaf Official Selection filmmakers, who will speak to the experience of making their films and the meaning they derived from the endeavor:
Wilmington on Fire (2015)
A Letter to My Son (2015)
The Other Side of the Coin: Race, Generations, and Reconciliation (2020)
Kindred Kings (2020)
Atinuke Diver and Maracel Guevarra
Quilt Journeys (2018)
Read on for more information about each filmmaker and film.
The evening will be moderated by Lana Garland, who has worked as a creative director, writer, and director/producer in television and film in the US and Europe.
Sade, a filmmaker of Nigerian and South African descent, graduated from Duke University with a degree in neuroscience, then found her passion for filmmaking later in her path. Her first short film, Godspeed, has received high praise, garnering more than a dozen festival selections, several awards, and a finalist spot in the 2020 Sundance Ignite Short Film Challenge. Sade has recently started a PhD at Princeton University, focusing on neurocinematics—the neuroscience of film—with hopes to bridge the gap between the worlds of film and science, specifically through the study and practice of creating intentional, narrative-driven visual experiences.
Godspeed is a meditative film that explores the notions of personhood, faith, and intergenerational community. Poetry, music, and visuals converge to lead us through the life of a Black girl as she becomes a Black woman—as she is forced to make sense of the dynamic tension between the child she was and the woman she will be, she draws strength from the one person who knows her best: her mother.
Wilmington on Fire
Christopher is an actor, writer, director, and producer from North Carolina, and he has experience in film, graphic design, marketing, and advertising. Wilmington on Fire, which focuses on the 1898 massacre in Wilmington, was the first feature-length documentary he directed and produced.
In 1898, Wilmington was North Carolina’s largest city, with a majority Black population, a thriving Black middle class, and a biracial fusion government. Then, on November 10, an armed mob of white supremacists opened fire on African American neighborhoods, slaughtering hundreds and driving thousands out of the city for good. Wilmington on Fire was a five-year passion project that consumed all his resources, but it enabled Chris to pull together an assortment of rare photographs, original research, and testimonies from historians and descendants of the victims—to uncover a shocking event that marked a turning point in politics for the post-Reconstruction South.
A Letter to My Son
Maurice’s love of film began at a young age—when his mother, frequently showed him kung fu films made by the Shaw brothers of Hong Kong. That interest evolved into a love of films that transcended local and immediate cultural boundaries and led to pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in film and video production and psychology, double major. His filmmaking career has since involved several commercial ad spots and production of his own feature-length film. Maurice enjoys film that involves cultural awareness, equality, and relationships.
A Letter to My Son is the touching story of a tired and worn, yet-to-be father who pens a hypothetical letter–an unflinching commentary on American racial injustice–for his unborn son, to outline his perspectives, fears, and concerns about the world. Shot in Greensboro, the highly acclaimed short earned its star, Gastonia-born Cranston Johnson, a best-actor award at the 2016 Rahway International Film Festival in New Jersey.
The Other Side of the Coin: Race, Generations, and Reconciliation
When Frederick was young, he always enjoyed talking to his elders and hearing stories of family history. Years later, he founded the History Before Us Project to listen and preserve more stories—especially those from survivors of Jim Crow, the courageous individuals who didn’t make the headlines—capturing, preserving, and advocating influential history that has been ignored and unheard and voices that have been traditionally silenced. His training and years of experience as a licensed counselor helps him create a comfortable environment and unique bond of trust with individuals who participate in his documentaries.
The Other Side of the Coin is a collection of experiences and thoughts that address the complexities of race in America. Its participants represent a span of generations, which presents its own unique challenges that tend to reignite historical transgressions into the fold of present-day ideologies—begging the question: How do we reconcile for the sake of future generations and humanity?
Tramaine Raphael “Trey” Gray is a multifaceted creator and director who focuses on performance art, film, and editorial work. Through training and opportunities, he discovered his true voice in the world: to lift up and serve underrepresented voices and their stories. As an artist, Trey strives to create innovative, thought-provoking and substantial work. Art, in his opinion, is supposed to communicate love and passion but also the raw reality of a world we all face daily. As an artist, he makes it his mission to use his art to change, heal, and support the world around him. Trey is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Kindred Kings is a poetic visual piece that explores freedom and true versatility for Black men. It illustrates the journey and helps us to remember that Black men are kings, “kindred kings”—and as kings, we get to decide a new narrative for the Black man.
Atinuke Diver and Maracel Guevarra
Grounded in the spirit of Charles Hamilton Houston’s adage that a lawyer is either a social engineer or a parasite on society, Atinuke “Tinu” Diver grounds her creative, legal, and community practices in ways that seek to build and regenerate rather than to purely extract and exploit. Currently a student at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS), Tinu is a graduate of the creative writing program at UNC–Chapel Hill and earned her JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law and has a career that includes work in the areas of education, transportation, and innovative technology. She is a first-generation American and daughter of Nigerian immigrants.
With roots in Fayetteville and the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, Mara has become a digital storyteller with a background in cultural studies. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California (BA in animation and digital arts and East Asian area studies) and Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea (MA in Korean studies through the Fulbright Program). A fan of speculative fiction, interactive art, and trope subversion, Mara is in the midst of various creative projects and hopes to continue working towards her dream of becoming a polymath. She is particularly interested in using immersive technology in order to document the future and propose new realities. Mara currently works as social media and digital projects manager at CDS.
“Journeys” can be transformative. And while most begin as a single step towards a known destination, for a community of African American women anchored in the Hayti community of Durham, the path towards courage, growth, and change isn’t a straight line, but a circle.
Lana’s work has included creating content for HBO and BET in America, and TV2 in Denmark. In the realm of public television, Lana freelanced on Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, a program on Historically Minority-Serving Institutions for UNC-TV, and more; in documentary film, she has freelanced on projects including Bowling for Columbine (2002) and Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives (2003). Lana is a Gordon Parks Independent Filmmaker Project screenwriting finalist, a Worldfest-Houston finalist, a Telly Award winner, and an NATPE (National Association of Television Program Executives) Faculty Fellow; she is a recipient of the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Award from the Durham Arts Council; and, as a Fulbright Specialist, she taught film at Makerere University in Uganda. As curator of Durham’s Hayti Heritage Film Festival, Lana is focused on developing a Black and southern–US film ecosystem; she also sits on Gov. Roy Cooper’s Advisory Council on Film, Television, and Digital Streaming.