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Arkansas Black Film Festival returns 

‘Reunion,” filmed in Hot Springs, will be shown twice this weekend.

'REUNION': Festival feature.
  • 'REUNION': Festival feature.

Using films to promote literacy and encourage dialogue about the motion picture industry’s role in socializing black communities is the main focus of the second annual Arkansas Black Film Festival, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17.

Market Street Cinema on Merrill Drive in West Little Rock will show films from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The College of Aspiring Artists Auditorium at Shorter College in North Little Rock will present films from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Admission to the festival is a $5 donation in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets are available at: Best Fish and Chicken, 5213 W. 65th St.; MLK Heritage Enrichment Center, 3012 Martin Luther King Drive; Pyramid Gallery, 500 President Clinton Ave.; and Market Street Cinema,1521 Merrill Drive.

The feature film, “Reunion,” was written and directed by Sheila Marie Norman, a native of Hot Springs. Her brother, Jerry L. Norman III, is executive producer. Norman & Norman Inc. Entertainment is based in Buena Park, Calif. The movie, filmed in Hot Springs, is about a cold-hearted professor suffering from kidney failure who attends a family reunion to approach her estranged sister for a transplant. Unresolved conflict from their catastrophic childhood remains, however. The film will be shown both days.

The ARBFF was founded by Wayne and Angela Burt. The ARBFF showcases and promotes film works written, produced or acted by people of color. The film organization also wants to encourage cross-cultural exchange; to emphasize important historical events in African and African-American history, and to foster solidarity among people from the African diaspora who struggle for change.

“After researching and [networking] with other film festivals across the country, such as Roxbury Film Festival in Boston, Atlanta’s Film Festival and San Francisco Film Festival and receiving positive feedback, we decided to create the first Black Arkansas Film Festival in Little Rock in the spring of 2004,” the Burts said. “We discovered that there are many independent movies, recent and older, that many black people have yet to have the opportunity to see.”

The Burts said that knowing how the media influences people’s mindsets, it is important that blacks support their own movies.

“There are a lot of black filmmakers, writers, directors and producers on the independent circuit,” Wayne Burt said, “[and] this is why it is important to have black film festivals across the country. Especially realizing that once a film is created, it does not mean it may get picked up by big production companies. There are a lot of talented black actors and actresses in Hollywood. And for some [actors and actresses], the independent circuit keeps them working.

“Most of the time you will find that independent film festivals get a lot of buzz because these are still venues where big production companies (Showtime, HBO) may find an interest in these films.”

For more information, visit the website: www.arkansasblackfilmfestival.com or call 501-612-2205.

Here is the schedule for the Arkansas Black Film Festival:

Market Street Cinema, Dec. 16

Wattstax (rated R for language): 9-11 a.m.

Sankofa (PG): 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

My Backyard Was a Mountain (short film; Spanish with English subtitles): 12:30-12:55 p.m.

Rabbit Proof Fence (PG-13): 1-2:30 p.m.

Stone Mansion (short): 2:30-2:45 p.m.

Tsotsi’s (English subtitled): 2:45-5 p.m.

Reunion: 5-7 p.m.

Standing in the Shadows of Motown — The Funk Brothers: 7-9 p.m.

The College of Aspiring

Artists Auditorium

Shorter College, Dec. 17

Robin Harris: Noon-2 p.m.

Rap Dreams: 2-4 p.m.

Reunion: 4:30 p.m.-6 p.m.

The Meeting (short): 6:15 p.m-6:35 p.m.

One Week (directed by Carl Seaton): 7-9 p.m.

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