On the Rize
Second annual black film fest premieres LaChapelle documentary
Back to School
Cardinal, Fourth & Gill ready for dialogue on Brownlow
• An Overton County judge removes himself from consideration for the state Supreme Court, expressing disappointment that so much attention focused on an allegation of sexual harassment from his past. Many who stood in front of his bench, many of whom likewise expressed disappointment that he focused so much attention on their past.
• According to newspaper reports, developers presenting their proposals for the South Knox waterfront all say they will pursue strategies that are rooted in the community. Skeptics point out that kudzu and poison ivy are examples of things already “rooted in the community,” but no one cares to pursue them any further.
• Tennessee Department of Transportation officials say they are “setting the bar” for other states in the way they have conducted their SmartFIX40 interstate construction campaign. They’ve set the bar, alright; it’s about three feet above the ground, and it stretches all the way across I-40.
• Some taxpayers say that additions to plans for a new west Knox County high school are turning the proposed facility into a veritable “luxury high school.” But school officials insist that the $500,000 (or so) worth of new space will make room for much-needed classrooms, not to mention the Perrier vending machines.
• The state safety commissioner rules that honorary members of the Tennessee Highway Patrol can keep their badges—which some allegedly showed to police officers to get out of speeding tickets—as long as they don’t misuse them. To that, we respond: We don’t need no stinking badges. We’d like to keep the handcuffs, though.
• County commissioners decide to locate a new “solid waste convenience center” (i.e., a trash dump) in Powell. Several Powell residents express their feelings by using commissioners’ desks as organic waste convenience centers after the meeting ends.
• A state Supreme Court ruling says that a convenience store owner could theoretically be held accountable for giving gas to a drunk motorist. Legal experts say the ruling could also lead to the closing of every Krystal drive-thru in the state
Organizer Mike Moore wasn’t unhappy with the turnout for last year’s inaugural Knoxville African American Film Festival—more than 200 people showed for the opening night alone. But he wasn’t satisfied, either.
“The thing I didn’t realize about attracting the African American community last year is that you literally have to go into the community and make them aware of what you’re doing,” says Moore, an African American fitness trainer who lives in Bearden.
“We’ve been on WKGN, on the Tee Blackman show, and on (hip-hop station) 104.5. But we’re also putting up posters, passing out fans.
“We’re trying to get people talking in the stores and salons, lots of word-of-mouth,” Moore continues. “ Badasssss! was that way last year; we got people in the streets buzzing, saying, ‘You’ve got to go see this movie. The Man is getting his ass kicked!’”
The showcase film for the 2004 KAAFF, Badasssss! was director and star Mario Van Peebles’ semi-biographical cinematic tribute to his father, Melvin Van Peebles, who directed and starred in the 1971 feature Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Revenge , considered by many to be the first blaxploitation flick.
Moore even managed to get Mario Van Peebles to attend the festival’s opening day, and Badasssss! ’s Knoxville premiere. Peebles would go on to win a Black Film Director of the Year award from one of the country’s most prestigious film festivals.
“I worked him (Van Peebles) when he came,” Moore remembers. “We visited several different schools; we went to the Tomato Head and Stir Fry Cafe and Bogartz; we did the Hal Hill show. He was very complimentary of his stay.”
Moore was less fortunate in his attempts to secure a celebrity guest to marquis this year’s event, but he did land a quality film for the festival’s opening night showcase—the local premiere of director Dave LaChapelle’s Rize , a documentary about the Los Angeles inner city street-dancing phenomenon known as krumping.
Rize premieres Thursday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. at Regal West Town Cinema Nine, along with a krumping demonstration by students from the Austin East performing arts magnet high school, and a lecture on how krumping connects to traditional African dance by University of Tennessee professor Raymond Anthony Hall.
“The way the movie industry works, most of the good movies are spent by the end of the summer,” Moore says. “ Rize presented us with a quality film by a name director, and also it says something to the community in a way that’s positive. Krumping gives many of these kids an alternative to gang violence, and also connects the spiritual aspects of dance back to Africa.”
After Thursday’s premiere showing, the remainder of the festival—Friday through Sunday—will take place at the Knoxville Museum of Art. This year’s roster features nearly 30 films (more than twice the number presented in 2004), and includes a large selection of kid- and family-friendly films, in addition to more adult-themed films such as Dinner with an Assassin , a feature about a hired killer who falls in love with a woman he meets during a planned hit, or The Industry , an hour-long documentary about the politics of the music industry, particularly as it relates to black performers in hip-hop and R&B.
“We made an extra effort trying to appeal to the youth this year,” Moore says. “Some of our young people just aren’t getting it, and I think Rize , especially, speaks to that. It speaks to the disenfranchised, to the angst and frustration of not feeling you have an opportunity.
“But I tried to get a mix of everything, from adult dramas, to family and youth, to faith-based films. I tried to take into account that there are people who are fairly conservative in this community, and they want to see themselves reflected in film as well.”
After Thursday’s Rize premiere, the KAAFF schedule is as follows:
Friday, the KMA will host showings of the movies Orange Bow , Squirrel Man , Grannies on Safari , Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story , Home Invasion , Just For Kicks , In Time , and Dinner with an Assassin . Saturday features films for “Kidz and Family,” including the animated shorts Adopted by Aliens , Prime Time Parents , The Abduction , Arnie The Doughnut , and Diary of a Worm ; followed by live action films My Purple Fur Coat , Red Glasses , and Au Pair Chocolat .
The day concludes with youth- and adult-oriented films The Male Groupie , The Industry , and Love Trap . Sunday’s roster features Bay City Luv: Singin’ n’ Livin’ on the Edge , Bathsheba , The State of Grace , Hardwood , Devotion , The Cage , and Lackawanna Blues .
Back to School
But under the burden of lofty aspirations and expensive structural alterations, the plan never quite got off the ground. While Dewhirst did make a few improvements—stabilizing the roof, carrying out old radiators and removing hazardous materials from the interior—residents of the Fourth & Gill neighborhood complain that the property has deteriorated since Dewhirst took it over.
In June, the project’s three-year deadline was up, and two competing proposals surfaced. Developer Dan Brewer’s plan revolved around the installation of 28 one- and two-bedroom apartments, taking advantage of historic tax credits. Cardinal Enterprises, Inc., on the other hand, proposed going forward with a condominium blueprint, hinging on tax increment financing. It would divide the school up into approximately 30 condominium units.
Cardinal’s proposal was picked up. “The vast majority prefer owners to renters, so we’re proceeding in that direction,” explains Brian Conley of Cardinal (also Metro Pulse ’s publisher).
Conley also says he expects the project to get underway in a timely manner, corresponding with what Rob Frost, a board member of the Fourth & Gill Neighborhood Organization, sums up as the neighborhood’s foremost expectation: “Our first concern is that a quality project be done and that construction begin as soon as possible.”
At a neighborhood organization meeting June 20, when the future of Brownlow School was still up in the air, board members’ expectations for the project—whoever the developer might be—were already clearly drawn. They aired concerns: What would be done with the gymnasium, for instance, or the playground, which the board offered to help restore. For some members, the playground, which was closed when the school closed, holds sentimental value and the renewed possibility of interaction between neighborhoods.
“The neighborhood built that playground, literally. The materials and everything were donated,” says Barbara Simpson, a board member who’s lived in Fourth & Gill since 1981. “And that school’s playground served Old North Knoxville just as much as it served Fourth & Gill.”
Cardinal’s tentative plans for the playground incorporate ideas that have beem previously tossed around by the board, including the addition of a swimming pool. It may also be used for extra parking, as efficiently designed parking areas that minimize unsightly curbside clutter on Luttrell Street and Glenwood Avenue are another neighborhood concern.
Other board suggestions, presented by Vice President Bill Pittman, included adherence to the neighborhood’s new decorative lighting scheme and the planting of Dogwood trees, since Luttrell Street was added this year to the Dogwood Trail.
Conley says that Cardinal is willing to work with the neighborhood as much as possible. Such cooperation and communication, according to Frost, should work to the project’s advantage.
“Obviously, some of the best salespeople for that project are the folks in the immediate vicinity,” he says. “They’re a free sales force, so it’s a great opportunity for Cardinal and the neighborhood to get together and have a quality project.”
SEVEN DAYS IN AUGUST
Wednesday, Aug. 17
Thursday, Aug. 18
Friday, Aug. 19
Saturday, Aug. 20
Sunday, Aug. 21
Monday, Aug. 22
Tuesday, Aug. 23
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