Southampton Village's annual African-American Film Festival will celebrate its 10th year Thursday through Sunday with a "Sing Your Song" theme highlighting contributions that an organizer said go largely unsung on the East End.
"We live in the Hamptons, and it's well-known for the beaches and wealth. But a lot of information about the contributions made by African-Americans [worldwide] is omitted -- even in our schools," said Brenda Simmons, a co-founder of the event and the assistant to Mayor Mark Epley.
Simmons, a native and resident of Southampton, said the festival, to be held at the Southampton Arts Center at 25 Jobs Lane, has become a way to expose African-American children growing up on the East End to historical celebrities who look like them.
"I usually had to take my daughter to New York City for exposure to anything from our culture," Simmons said.The festival will feature documentaries on singer Marvin Gaye; civil rights leader, social activist and legislator Julian Bond; and photographer, musician, writer and director Gordon Parks. Musical offerings and spoken word performances will be included as part of the festival's theme.
"The theme was chosen for the fact that singing and music have been a power venue for Africans and African-Americans to express pain, sorrow and joy," Simmons said.
Proceeds from the event will benefit the Southampton African-American Museum, now a virtual museum that is set to be located in a brick-and-mortar space in the former Juke Joint barbershop building on North Sea Road.
"It's big here in our community, and it's been growing," Epley said of the film festival. "It's more than just a film festival; it's more of a celebration of African-American heritage in our country and the East End. I think there's some good stuff that's going to go on that week."
A stage play, "Martin, Malcolm and Me," will start things Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
On Friday, festivalgoers can enjoy spoken word/live jazz performances by Grammy-winning poets and singer-songwriters.
The films will be shown starting Saturday and include "Soundtrack for a Revolution," which tells the Civil Rights movement through the music it inspired; "Marvin Gaye: What's Goin' On"; and the HBO film "Bessie," starring Queen Latifah as blues queen Bessie Smith.
Bruce Nalepinski, a resident of East Hampton Town whose film credits include the Oscar-winning "Kramer vs. Kramer," was line producer for "Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks."
"He was the first black director of a feature film with an all-black cast," Nalepinski said in a phone interview, referring to Park's iconic film "Shaft." He was also the first black employee of Life magazine, where Parks was hired as a staff photographer who became known for his photo essays.
"All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert," is a documentary on the artist whose paintings depict bigotry in America.
The documentary "Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement," will also be shown Saturday. Eduardo Montes-Bradley directed the film.
"It took us about a year to accumulate and amass images and footage from the days of President Johnson and Vietnam to the Civil Rights Movement to Obama," Montes-Bradley said. "It's a biographical sketch. There's an extraordinary amount of information there."