The Rehoboth Beach Film Society, in partnership with the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, will present the inaugural Rehoboth Beach African-American Film Festival. The festival's mission is to deepen awareness of African-American cultures and experiences, and to explore community differences and commonalities through the art of film.
Four films will be presented over President's Day weekend, Friday to Sunday, Feb. 16 to 18, at the Cinema Art Theater, 17701 Dartmouth Drive, Dartmouth Plaza behind the Lewes Wawa. To convey the complexity and vibrancy of the black experience in contemporary America, this year's selection of films will cover a diverse range of topics including the artistic legacy of black photographers, police violence against black youth, and the shifting definition of success in the lives of a group of urban 30-somethings.
Opening the festival will be "Fruitvale Station" at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 16. Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, the film follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of Dec. 31, 2008, and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve; being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), whom he hasn't been completely honest with as of late; and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful 4-year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core.
"Through a Lens Darkly" will be shown at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. The first documentary to explore the American family photo album through the eyes of black photographers, "Through a Lens Darkly" probes the recesses of American history to discover images that have been suppressed, forgotten and lost. From slavery to the present, these extraordinary images unveil a world confronting the difficult edges of citizenship and what it means to be human. Inspired by Deborah Willis's book "Reflections in Black" and featuring works by Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas and many others, the film introduces viewers to a community of storytellers who collectively transform singular experiences into a journey of discovery – and a call to action.
"Big Words" will be screened at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 17. Written and directed by Neil Drumming and set in Brooklyn on the eve of President Obama's history-making election, the film shows how three former members of a once-promising hip-hop crew cross paths again to discover that some things never change. Former front man John, once known as Big Words, is now a working-class guy who raps only to himself. James is a publicist living with his boyfriend, far removed from the days when he rhymed about getting girls. DJ Malik still spins records with a longing for the glory days. Together again, the friends reckon with dreams deferred and dreams yet to come.
Closing the festival will be the powerful documentary "3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets" at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18. On Black Friday 2012, four African-American teenagers stopped at a gas station to buy gum and cigarettes. One of them, Jordan Davis, argued with Michael Dunn, a white man parked beside them, over the volume of music playing in their car. The altercation turned to tragedy when Dunn fired 10 bullets at the unarmed boys, killing Davis almost instantly. The seamlessly constructed, riveting documentary film explores the danger and subjectivity of Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense laws by weaving Dunn's trial with a chorus of citizen and pundit opinions, and with Jordan Davis' parents' wrenching experiences in and out of the courtroom.
Doors open 30 minutes prior to the start of each screening. Admission prices are $10 per screening. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to www.rehobothfilm.com, call 302-645-9095, Ext. 1, or visit the film society office from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Tickets are nonrefundable.