Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dare Not Walk Alone, first stop on the Southern Tour

Driving east on I-10, that gray unbending line rimmed by tall pine trees, I feel nostalgia set in. It has been a long time since I have been back in the South, having made my home in Brooklyn NY for the last few years. I drive past towns with names made famous in Lucida Williams songs, and I feel proud to still consider myself a Southerner. I am looking forward to the Southern Tour, showing the film in all of these amazing venues, but I’m also excited to connect with the South again… and get some Chick-Fil-A.
The first stop was last night at the Manship Theater in Baton Rouge, LA. Upon entering the Manship, one can’t help but feel like they have just stepped into one of the hallowed halls of a much bigger city’s cultural institution. Maybe it is the impossibly high ceilings and the modern design, complemented by levels of contemporary art but whatever it is, it’s totally impressive.
The theater itself is an intimate 300 seat, half round, multilevel space without a bad seat in the house. As the audience filtered in, I met Dr. Emanuel who would serve as a moderator of our post screening discussion. I liked her instantly. She is the kind of person that instantly makes you feel at ease, and I was happy to have her be a part of the discussion after the film. It can sometimes be a sticky situation to show a film about Civil Rights and the legacy of racism, especially in the South.
As the credits rolled and the post screening discussion began the audience immediately became engaged asking more than the usual questions. The discussion moved around the theater and it was clear that the film had resonated with this well informed audience as everyone stayed seated, and genuinely participated. I had the feeling that we could have sat in the theater all night discussing the issues the film deals with, and that would have been just fine with me. As a filmmaker that is the best you can hope for!
It was a great experience.
In talking with Page of the Manship after as the last of the audience members finally trickled out, she said that it was the best post screening discussion she had ever seen at the theater. In my book that is a success!
Up next The Mary “C” in Ocean City, MS!