African American Film Festival Is October 1-4 at Southampton Arts Center

Films about Marvin Gaye and Bessie Smith are both featured in the African American Film Festival
Films about Marvin Gaye and Bessie Smith are both featured in the African American Film Festival, Photos: Unknown (left), Carl Van Vechten (right)

“Sing Your Song” is the theme of the 10th annual African American Film Festival, October 1 through 4 at the Southampton Arts Center.

Presented by the Southampton African American Museum, this is a seminal year of an event that has brought the richness of diversity to the cultural landscape of the East End.

The African American Film Festival will kick off on Thursday, October 1, at 6:30 p.m. with the East End premiere of the stage play Martin, Malcolm and Me by writer/director J.D. Lawrence, followed by a Q&A. ($12 advance/$15 door).

Friday, October 2, will embody this year’s theme of “Sing Your Song” with spoken word/live jazz performances by R&B singer Cheryl Pepsii Riley, poet J Ivy, singer/songwriter Tarrey Torae, and the Charles Certain and Certain Moves jazz quartet. ($30 advance/$35 door).

Saturday, October 3, will feature four films celebrating iconic African American artists that helped change both the artistic and political landscape of America:

1:00-2:22 p.m.: Soundtrack for a Revolution tells the story of the American Civil Rights Movement through the powerful music that emerged out of it, by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman.

2:30-4:00p.m.: Marvin Gaye: What’s Goin On
A documentary on the iconic R&B artist by director Sam Pollard who is editor for Spike Lee and an NYU film professor and filmmaker.

4:15-5:35 p.m.: Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks
An intimate look at the life and career of Gordon Parks, a true Renaissance man who has excelled as a photographer, novelist, journalist, poet, musician, and filmmaker. Directed by Craig Laurence Rice, the screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s line producer Bruce Nalepinski.

7:15-8:32 p.m.: All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert
A documentary on the artist Winfred Rembert, whose paintings depicted bigotry in America in the latter part of the 20th century. The screening will be followed by a Q&A featuring the film’s producer Vivian Ducat and the artist himself, Winfred Rembert!

Sunday, October 4, continues this year’s theme with two films about two legendary African American performers, reggae innovator Bob Marley and blues queen Bessie Smith. However, the day’s screening opens with a remembrance in tribute to civil rights activist Julian Bond who passed away in August of this year:

1:30-2:04 p.m.: Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement
A documentary film by Eduardo Montes-Bradley. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion, “The Past, the Present Work of Julian Bond and How His Work Affects Today” with civil rights experts Natalie Byfield, Carol Spencer, and William Pickens III, followed by a Q&A.

2:45-5 p.m.: Marley is a biographical documentary about musician, revolutionary, and reggae legend Bob Marley by filmmaker Kevin Macdonald.

6:30-8 p.m.: Bessie
An HBO film about legendary American blues singer Bessie Smith, and focuses on her transformation as a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues.” Directed by Dee Rees, Queen Latifah stars as Smith in this extraordinary film.

All films at the festival are $12 in advance and $15 at the door, however the final film, Bessie, is free and open to the public, but tax-exempt donations to the Southampton African American Museum at the door will be accepted and appreciated.

For more information visit For tickets, call Nancy Stevens-Smith at 631-428-1857 or Joann Humble at 631-764-4792.

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