Morning Panel: Black Lives in the Carolinas, 1938–1978, a virtual panel discussion with professor and author Marsha Gordon, Skip Elsheimer of AV Geeks, and filmmaker Chris Everett.
Saturday, May 15, 11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. via Demio
Bring your questions!
This virtual program will introduce a curated selection of short films and film excerpts and discuss the ways they helped shape the narrative for how we saw Black lives at the time. Clips will come from
- H. Lee Waters’ 1930s films of Chapel Hill—some of the 252 films that Waters created during the Depression by working with 118 communities across North Carolina and parts of Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina; at a time when most couldn’t spare money for a portrait at his photography studio or to attend a movie, Waters traveled and filmed people in their local communities, then collaborated with nearby movie theaters to screen those films, which he called “Movies of Local People” and billed with the phrase, See yourself in the movies!;
- George Stoney’s 1951 portrait of the state, Tar Heel Family—a state-sponsored documentary that features the town of Clinton (Sampson County) to provide a view of North Carolina’s transition from an agrarian economy to an economy based more on industry;
- the North Carolina Film Board’s 1964 Vote and the Choice Is Yours—in which we hear students from Fayetteville State College speak about why they are voting and how they are voting, as well as how they think of themselves as agents of change; and
- the 1978 video production Image of North Carolina State University in the Black Community.
Bring your questions for this timely conversation about films in our past.
Skip Elsheimer founded the A/V Geeks 16-mm film archive by accident over 25 years ago. Since then, he has amassed more than 30,000 16-mm educational films that he keeps in a former boarding house in downtown Raleigh. His mission, besides rescuing films from surplus auctions, flea markets, dumpsters, and landfills, is to get new eyeballs on the films. Toward that goal, he has uploaded 3,000+ films to YouTube and the Internet Archive and, over the past year, has been doing a daily screening show on Facebook and YouTube for hundreds of viewers who were locked down during the pandemic.
Marsha Gordon is a film studies professor at North Carolina State University who loves researching, writing, and speaking about American film and cultural history. She has codirected three short documentaries: Nesting (2020), about a bird’s nest and historical small-town American newspapers; All the Possibilities . . . (2019), about one, single, extraordinary painting by Vernon Pratt; and Rendered Small (2017), about a unique collection of American folk art buildings. Marsha is also the author of Film Is Like a Battleground: Sam Fuller’s War Movies and Hollywood Ambitions: Celebrity in the Movie Age and served as coeditor of Learning with the Lights Off: A Reader in Educational Film and Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film. She also is a former editor of The Moving Image journal.
Christopher Everett combined his love for history and film into directing and producing his first feature-length documentary, Wilmington on Fire, which chronicles the Wilmington Insurrection of 1898. The self-taught documentarian won the Pan African Film Festival Best Director, First Feature Documentary award in 2017; the following year, he won a Cucalorus Filmed in NC Fund grant, and in 2020 he won a research and development grant from the Southern Documentary Fund. In addition, Christopher was recently selected recipient of a Firelight Media Documentary Lab 2021–2022 fellowship for “Grandmaster”—his upcoming martial arts documentary. Christopher cofounded BLK Docs to help build an authentic documentary film culture within the African American community through film screenings, webinars, and other interactive events. He is, also, currently working with Preservation NC on a three-part documentary on the history of Black builders and architects in North Carolina.
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