Authors, Film & TV

Published on July 10th, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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PBS Short Film Festival Features Films Addressing Race Relations & The Black Experience

The Webby Award-nominated PBS Short Film Festival returns for a ninth year from Monday, July 13 – Friday, July 24 to all PBS and station digital platforms, including PBS.org, YouTube, and Facebook.

The festival, part of a multiplatform initiative to increase the reach and visibility of independent filmmakers, and to provide a showcase for diverse storytelling that both inspires and engages, features 25 short-form independent films presented in five categories: culture, environment, family, humanity, and race.

A third of this year’s films selected address race relations and the Black experience.

“Preston’s Gone”

Public Media Partner Louisiana Public Broadcasting (LPB)

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Race): Wednesday, July 15 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Preston Thornton, an Army veteran, was experiencing paranoid delusions on August 2, 2017. After being convinced to call the Veteran’s Crisis line by his sister, two deputies came to transport Preston to a veteran’s hospital. The tragedy that followed could have been prevented. Using the body-worn footage from the officers, the film asks how a veteran ended up dead. The answers lead to an issue larger than Preston or the deputies, a systemic problem with mental health crises in the state of Louisiana and beyond.

“Celestia Morgan

Public Media Partner: Alabama Public Television (APTV)

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Race): Wednesday, July 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Birmingham based conceptual photographer Celestia Morgan uses image to exercise and amplify her voice. Morgan’s latest project draws on a family’s experience with redlining, which inspired her to create work challenging assumptions about the communities around us.

“History of White People in America”

Public Media Partner:  World Channel

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Race): Wednesday, July 15 at 10:00 a.m. ET

An African husband and English wife sing about the fate of their future as new laws render their love illegal.

 “Embers”

Public Media Station: KLRU-TV Austin PBS

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Race): Thursday, July 16 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Two mothers with sons in trouble at school face a racist high school administration.

“We Gon’ Be Alright”

Public Media Partner: Independent Television Service (ITVS)

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Race): Thursday, July 16 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Jeff Chang visits East Palo Alto, a historically Black and Latino community in the heart of Silicon Valley, to hang out with rapper, dancer and performer Isaiah Phillips a.k.a. Randy McPhly, who appeared in Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” video. They talk about the domino effects of gentrification and displacement, the re-segregating of an area where the rents have been rising dramatically, and why people of color feel like they’re not part of the future.

“Edwin”

Public Media Station: KLRU-TV Austin PBS

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Culture): Saturday, July 18 at 9:30 a.m. ET

Edwin Debrow Jr. murdered a cab driver when he was 12. He was sentenced to 40 years. Today he’s walking out.

“Knocking Down the Fences”

Public Media Partner: Reel South

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Culture): Saturday, July 18 at 10:00 a.m. ET

This is the story of a superstar athlete and why the sports industry hasn’t put her on your radar. A.J. Andrews is the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, an award given to the best fielders in baseball for decades. But winning the Gold Glove did not change the fact that Andrews earns less than $15k a year in an industry more willing to pay female athletes to model than to play their sport.

“Birth of Afrobeat”

Public Media Partner: Black Public Media

Facebook Watch Party (Film Category: Humanity): Monday, July 20 at 9:30 a.m. ET

A new perspective on the Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, also known as “My Friend Fela,” is told through conversations with his close friend and official biographer, Afro-Cuban Carlos Moore. The accompanying, live-action animated short, “Birth of Afrobeat,” tells how Nigerian drummer Tony Allen and his partner Fela Kuti created the Afrobeat genre. This is a directorial debut for filmmaker Opiyo Okeyo.

Starting at midnight on Monday, July 13, viewers can  share and vote for their favorite film to win the “Most Popular” award. In addition, the PBS Short Film Festival is holding Facebook Watch parties for each of the films



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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