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Festival Review
Independent Black Film
Festival 2006

by Spencer Moon

Festival Facts:

  • This is the third year for Atlanta's Independent Black Film Festival.
  • The festival was held March 12-19, 2006.
  • Screened nearly 60 films
  • There was a four to one ratio of narrative to documentary films.
  • There was a three to one ratio of shorts (less than 60 minutes) to features.
  • More than a dozen awards were given including several audience-voted awards.
  • Over a dozen panels were held.

Film Highlights:

Opening night film was Tsotsi from South Africa, the 2005 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Film. The film is based on a novel by Athol Fugard. Written and directed by Gavin Hood. After the festival, I spoke to a friend who attended this opening night screening, which was sold out. Later, in talking to them about the film they thought it was a documentary and said they did not like it. For me that proves that the filmmakers have you riveted with the images and ideas in this fiction work, much like a compelling documentary.

Black Wheels. In conjunction with several new festival sponsors including NASCAR as part of their "Fast Car Week," the festival screened a documentary titled Black Wheels. This 90 minute-film is from executive producer Tim Reid's Virginia based New Millennium Studios. Reid also narrated the film. The film chronicles the African American involvement in the history of motor sports in America. The audience of over a hundred young people was treated to gift bags and were able to view some fast cars in the parking lot of the Auburn Avenue Research Library where the screening was held. The film sheds light on many little known black drivers like Wendell Scott, Charlie Wiggins, Bill Lester and a host of others.

Other notable films included:

Arthur! A celebration of life. 90 minutes. The docudrama is about the tennis legend, humanitarian, author and world activist Arthur Ashe. The film features actor, writer, producer and director Joseph H. James, Jr.

Letter to the President. 90-minute documentary, directed by Thomas Gibson and produced by Quincy Jones III. America's economic policy of the last thirty years and the rise of hip hop in the last decade. Narrated by Snoop Dogg.

Elephant Boy. 30-minute narrative, drama. Based on the true story of an East Indian crippled beggar and his search for love and acceptance. Directed by Rene Mohandras.

The Cole Nobody Knows. 26-minute documentary. Produced and directed by local Atlanta filmmaker, Clay Walker. A loving portrait of the vocalist/pianist and Atlanta native Freddy Cole.

Quilombo Country. 75 minute-documentary. Produced, directed and edited by first time filmmaker Leonard Abrams. The story of the contemporary descendents of African slaves who still live in their hereditary lands called quilombos (and Angolan word that means encampments). Today their fight is against, local politicians, developers and socioeconomic discrimination. The film is a labor of love shot over twenty weeks over a five year period. It is a fascinating story of contemporary Brazil and the black Diaspora experience from an entirely different perspective. Mr. Abrams works in his day job as a copy editor. Let's hope it doesn't prevent him from continuing to make films like this one.

Click here for a Q & A interview with festival Director Asante Addae.