SCAD’s Savannah Film Festival introduced Savannah to love, country and friendship on the big screen during its 21st annual event.
BlacKkKlansman, If Beale Street Could Talk and Green Book – three signature films were soldout during the weeklong festival at the Lucas Theatre and Trustee Theater in downtown Savannah. The movies were based upon facts and celebrated adapted books and family stories. These flashbacks in the 60s and 70s showed viewers real like dramas and realities that reflect today’s struggles with black and white people learning how to live together. The similarities overpowered viewers with variations of love.
Throngs of viewers on Wednesday at the Lucas Theatre left showing signs of strong reflections, tears and emotions after Spike Lee, the celebrated filmmaker not afraid of confronting racial conflicts, in BlacKkKlansman. The real life story about Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) who followed a dream in the 1970s to become the first black police officer in the city of Colorado Springs, Colo. He stumbled on a newspaper advertising to recruit members of the Ku Klux Klan. He became a detective and was ordered to pose on the telephone as a candidate of the local membership. His Jewish colleague worked undercover and became a member. Stallworth also followed a black nationalist group and befriended Patrice Dumas (Laura Harrier). David Duke, the Grand Wizard of the KKK (played by Topher Grace) liked Stallworth because he thought he had the voice of a white man on the telephone. Duke learned later, after he was trapped by Stallworth’s detective work, and KKK men and women, unraveled a conspiracy to bomb the house and car of the black power group. Love overpowered hate. Lee infiltrated the story of BlacKkKlansman with humor, updated news reels and truth. The audience responded when a scene of President Donald J. Trump advocated white nationalism. Someone yelled, “Vote” and others roared in affirmation. Never the-less, at the end of the film the KKK continued to recruit people into the fold of white nationalism. The movie opened nationally last summer and it’s available on iTunes.com.
Black love struck a young couple in If Beale Street Could Talk and they were never separated by love and family, even between prison bars.
Oscar- awarding winning director and writer Barry Jenkins adapted a classic novel by James Baldwin into a winning love story. Tish, 18, (played by Kiki Lane, a new starlet) found love as an innocent little girl in her neighborhood with Fonny, 22, (played by Stephan James). They romanced themselves within the walls of a basement slum in Harlem in 1974 and they were captivated by Fonny’s dreams of becoming an artist. Their love and her family’s strength boasted a new baby. That kept them together when a crooked white police officer accused him of raping a woman and he was never brought to court. The gates of prison didn’t break the couple, their son, or the belief of their family that one day he would be free.
Renowned pianist Dr. Don Shirley, an international African-American pianist (played by Mahershala Ali) was contracted with Capitol Records to tour through the South in the 1960s, a Jim Crow era. He couldn’t eat in certain restaurants nor could he reside in certain hotels without the aide of a Green Book. He hired Tony Lip (played by Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer to chauffeur him. Shirley and Lip learned about their differences in literacy, the dialects of the cultured ways, street ways, varied foods, classical music, blues and early rock n’ roll.
They became unlikely friends while dealing with cultural and intellectual backgrounds that flipped the stereotypes on the big screen. A true story, Green Book, came alive by Director Peter Farrelly and co-writers Brian Hayes Currie and Nick Vallelonga.
The characters felt the sting of racism and they grew up learning about themselves and their families. The film opens nationally on Nov. 21, 2018.