By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, MSJ
During Black History Month, the Glen Theatre in Gary will present a series of independent films during the 9th Annual Film Festival, hosted by Gary native and Hollywood actor. The two-day cultural event will screen a new feature film and a series of shorter pieces.
Screenings will begin Friday, February 21, and continue through Saturday, February 22, 2020. The Glen Theater is located at 20 W. Ridge Road in Gary. The lineup for each day is as follows:
Friday, February 21, 6:30 p.m.: Chasing AfterYou (feature film), Final Exam, Sound of Silence, Part of Me, African Americans on U.S. Postage Stamps and Hollywood Star. A reception at the theatre will precede the Friday films.
Saturday, February 22, 7:00 p.m.: Bound and Gagged, The Truth Shall Make You Free, Child Support, Grandma’s House, One Last Goodbye and The Unwilling.
Local underwriters for the festival are NIPSCO, South Shore Arts, Indiana Arts Commission and Majestic Star Casino.
Sponsors of the festival include: Bea’s Classy Ladies, Brother’s Keeper, Red Roses, First AME Missionary Church, Xinos & Kudos, AKA Sorority, NAACP-Gary Chapter, Froebel Alumni Park Committee, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Omega Psi Phi, AKA Chapter, Gary Alumnae Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, National Hook-up of Black Women, Inc., and West Side High School Class of ’71.
Ticket prices for the Friday and Saturday events are as follows: Friday and Saturday: Combo Advance $30. Friday Advance $20/Door $25, Saturday Advance $15/Door $20. Advance tickets are available at Beautiful Things, 4335 Broadway, (219-985-8256) and at the NAACP Gary Chapter (219-949-5565).
Following are capsules of some of the films featured during the fest:
“Bound and Gagged” – Shannon Whren
Shannon Whren was born in Washington, D.C., and is as ambitious as they come. Whren was always a force to be reckoned with creating; whether her creativity canvas was a head to color, cut or style or a piece of paper, she always made magic happen. As she grew to love writing more and more and later directed her creative time toward writing, she developed her niche. Whren used her pen to write the most amazing stories and theatrical productions that gave her the household name “game changer with a pen.” Whren has been writing and directing for 27 years with all kinds of congratulatory awards, certificates, proclamations, news, media and article write-ups. Whren honed her craft and has now written one of her most acclaimed scripts, as she co-directed her first film “Bound and Gagged.” She has written to date about 50 scripts/skits that have gone into full production. Whren has directed all of them except two. This is only the beginning for Shannon Whren, and remember you read it here first.
“The Unwilling Series Pilot” – Antonio Jefferson
Antonio Jefferson is a self-taught actor, writer, producer, director and editor. Antonio got his start producing, writing and performing R&B music at an early age. He was bitten by the acting bug when a friend asked him to co-star in a film for a local film festival. After winning first place, he began performing in film and television. Jefferson can be seen in numerous programming on the Investigation Discovery Channel (ID Channel), such as “Nightmare Next Door,” “Frenemies,” “Deadly Affairs,” “Who The Bleep” and “Evil Twins.” He can also be seen in “House of Cards” with Kevin Spacey and “Veep” with Julia Louis Dreyfus. He has also played a lead role in “America’s Most Wanted.”
All of his television exposure is matched by the two full feature films produced by Love Star Entertainment. Antonio wrote, produced, directed, edited and starred in “Purpose,” Love Star Entertainment’s first full feature. Antonio also produced, directed, edited and acted in “Dead Secrets.” He displays his creative cinematic eye as cinematographer in both “Dead Secrets” and “Purpose.” Additionally, he has created more than 10 short films.
Hollywood Star – Wenston Black
Wenston Black is an actor, director, writer and spoken word artist. He has been acting for about eight years and performing spoken word for about the same amount of time. He loves being involved in theatre. Even though he has done stage plays, he really loves being a part of film, as well. “Hollywood Star” is his first film.
The Sound of Silence – Donald Wilson
Donald Wilson is an EMMY® nominated cinematographer, photographer, poet, film – music video – and television commercial director, and video editor. An actor by trade, Donald’s passion for performing arts emerged during his early years as a theater student at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte campus. He later fell into the behind-the-scenes aspect of film, and the rest is cinematic history. Chasing After You – Featured Film – Paige B. Alston
Paige B. Alston is a filmmaker on the rise. Paige began her filmmaking journey at age 16 learning the ins-and-outs at a local youth development center, Youthville Detroit. She later developed her skills doing freelance work for her peers in college. Paige set out to create “visual poetry,” which led her to establish her own media company, The Brianna Films.
Slave – Rico Shay
Rico Shay is an independent film writer, director and producer. He has a strong passion for acting but developed one for writing and directing when he realized the potential he had with it. He wrote his first film in the spring of 2018 and established So Visionaire Films later that summer.
The Truth Shall Make You Free – Ja’mal Jones
Ja’Mal Jones was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received his Bachelor’s Degree for Creative Writing For Entertainment and became a minister in 2016. Growing up surrounded by gangs, drugs, and violence made him want to do something different and not be a statistic of his environment.
It was at ISU where he learned what he really wanted to do. He wrote poems for class that are now used in the ISU English Department. He went on to write Bible-based, inspirational poetry that turned into a 100-page book, “A Prisoner Set Free.” Years later he decided to pursue writing scripts.
God I’m Not Ready – Ben’a Klier Bouler
Ben’a was born Ben’a Felita Brown, also known as Blaq Orchid. She is one of the most influential authors and spoken word artists of the 21st century. Many of her works include, but are not limited to, her bestselling short stories, biographies and devotionals titled: “In the Eyes of Truth: What Is Your Truth,” “Journey Through Life Devotional,” “Words of Life: Daily Affirmations” and “Love and Secrets.”
Starting as an actress starring in many popular television broadcasts and movies, Ben’a’s dream was to show people that they can overcome any obstacle thrown in their lives. Ben’a is the CEO and Founder of Blaq Orchid Productions.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood–South Side of Chicago.” For book info, firstname.lastname@example.org.