Firelight Media, POV and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) present the Harlem premiere of New York filmmaker Christine Turner’s debut feature documentary, Homegoings, at the historic Apollo Theater on June 21, 2013. This event is presented in partnership with The Futuro Media Group, ImageNation Cinema Foundation, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Maysles Documentary Center, NBPC, WNET and WNYC.
Friday, June 21, 2013. Red Carpet photo/interview opportunities: 7:00 p.m.
Screening: 7:30 p.m.
Q&A with filmmaker, film subjects: 9:00 p.m.
The Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th Street (Between Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard (7th Avenue) and Frederick Douglass Boulevard (8th Avenue), New York, NY 10027
Program will include introductions by Firelight, POV and UMEZ; a discussion with Christine Turner (film director), Isaiah Owens (subject) and Harlem filmmaker Stanley Nelson (co-founder of Firelight Media), moderated by Moikgantsi Kgama, founder of ImageNation Cinema Foundation; a live performance by the film’s composer, violinist Daniel Roumain, featuring members of The Harlem Chamber Players (violinists Ashley Horne and Monica Davis, viola player Adam Hill and cellist Lawrence Zoernig); and appearances by Owens family members and people in the film. Legendary New York filmmakers Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders, The Murder of Emmett Till); co-founder of Firelight Media) and Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Muhammad and Larry) to attend. The McCollough Sons of Thunder gospel band (known as the Thunderbirds), from Harlem’s United House of Prayer for All People, and African drummers from the National Black Theater will perform outside the Apollo before the screening.
Visit homegoingsharlem.eventbrite.com to register online. First come, first served. Registration does not guarantee admission.
About the Film:
Through the eyes of renowned funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones “home.” (2013. USA. Directed by Christine Turner. 58 min.)
Homegoings will have its national broadcast premiere on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 10 p.m. on PBS’ POV series (check local listings). Find out more: www.pbs.org/pov/homegoings.
The film is a co-production of ITVS and POV’s Diverse Voices Project, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is a co-presentation the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).
“The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, along with its partners, is proud to present the Harlem premiere of Homegoings,” said Kenneth J. Knuckles, President and CEO. “The film features the Owens Funeral Home, one of the many small businesses in Upper Manhattan that has received loan financing from UMEZ. Homegoings was directed and produced by Christine Turner, a participant in Firelight Media’s Producer’s Lab, an initiative funded in part by UMEZ’s Cultural Industry Investment Fund. This unique intersection of UMEZ funding has created the opportunity to showcase the organization’s work in action.”
“Firelight Media is honored to join partners POV and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone to present Christine Turner’s moving film, Homegoings,” said Stanley Nelson, Executive Director, Firelight Media. “Christine is a sterling example of the high caliber of filmmakers that we mentor and support through our Producer’s Lab. As a Harlem-based media organization, we are committed to developing emerging producers of color like Christine and sharing their films with our local community. And what better place than at the legendary Apollo Theater!”
“POV is thrilled to team with these exceptional partners for our first event at New York’s one and only Apollo Theater,” said Cynthia López, Co-Executive Producer, POV. “We chose Homegoings as the first film of our 26th season on PBS because it is a beautiful look at a man with an extraordinary passion for his work and community. The Apollo event promises to be a moving, uplifting evening–at the perfect venue.”
“In addition to its rich legacy as one of the nation’s premier cultural institutions, the Apollo Theater has always been a beacon for the community and a supporter of Harlem based artists and arts organizations and local businesses,” said Mikki Shepard, The Apollo’s Executive Producer. “We are so proud to host the Harlem premiere of Homegoings as we feel it is important to celebrate everyday heroes like Isaiah Owens as well as provide a platform for emerging filmmakers such as Christine Turner.”
Major funding for this event was provided by the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone and POV in association with the Apollo Theater.
Christine Turner is an independent filmmaker based in New York. As a researcher and producer, she has contributed to numerous documentaries for PBS, HBO and OWN, working with Bill Moyers, Lisa Ling, Stanley Nelson and others. Her short fiction films have screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and on PBS. She was born and raised in San Francisco and received a bachelor of fine arts degree in film and television from the Tisch School of the Arts, part of New York University, in New York.
The daughter of a Chinese-American mother and an African-American father, Turner experienced two different sets of funeral customs when both of her grandmothers passed away within two weeks of one another. Though just a child at the time, she remained curious about the different ways that cultures mourned death. Many years later, when she came across an article about Harlem undertaker Isaiah Owens, who has a reputation for beautifying the dead, she was immediately intrigued.
Born and raised in Branchville, S.C., Isaiah Owens has been in the mortuary profession for 44 years. He moved to New York in 1968 at the age of 17 to train as a mortician and became a licensed funeral director in 1969. In addition to being recognized as a superb embalmer and restorative artist, he has earned a number of citations for his contributions to the community, including an award from the Children of Gwendolyn Bland Day Care, presented by former Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields; and an award from Sardis Baptist Church, signed by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Isaiah Owens Funeral Services, “where beauty softens your grief,” has two branches: one in Harlem, which Owens runs with his wife, Lillie; and another in Branchville, where his mother, Lillie Mae, works. Visit www.isaiahowensenterprises.com/.
Haitian-American artist Daniel Bernard Roumain, who wrote original music for Homegoings, is a classically trained composer, performer, violinist and band leader noted for blending funk, rock, hip-hop and classical music. His compositions have been performed by chamber ensembles and full orchestras, and have inspired the work of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and tap dancer Savion Glover. Roumain has worked with Philip Glass, Cassandra Wilson, DJ Spooky and Lady Gaga, and his work has been commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music, among other organizations.
Harlem Chamber Players:
The Harlem Chamber Players is an ethnically diverse collective of professional musicians dedicated to bringing affordable and accessible live classical music to people in the Harlem community and beyond, through community and educational outreach and collaborations with Harlem’s arts organizations, schools and cultural institutions. Visit HarlemChamberPlayers.org.
The Apollo is a national treasure that has had significant impact on the development of American culture and its popularity around the world. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo Theater has played a major role in cultivating artists and in the emergence of innovative musical genres including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, Sammy Davis, Jr., James Brown, Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill and countless others began their road to stardom on the Apollo’s stage. The Apollo Theater’s new artistic vision builds on its legacy. New Apollo programming has music as its core, driving large scale and more intimate music, dance and theater presentations. The Apollo will continue to present historically relevant presentations, as well as more forward-looking, contemporary work. Based on its cultural significance and architecture, the Apollo Theater received state and city landmark designation in 1983 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit ApolloTheater.org.
Firelight Media, POV and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) present the Harlem premiere of New York filmmaker Christine Turner’s debut feature documentary, Homegoings, at the historic Apollo Theater on June 21, 2013. Firelight Media, co-founded by MacArthur “Genius” and multiple award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson (Freedom Riders; Jonestown; The Murder of Emmett Till), is dedicated to supporting and mentoring the next generation of documentary filmmakers of color, and to building audiences for their work. Homegoings filmmaker Christine Turner is a Fellow of Firelight’s Producers’ Lab, which offers guidance and support to first-and second-time filmmakers. Other Lab films have premiered and won awards at the Sundance, Full Frame, San Francisco and Urban World film festivals, with one shortlisted for an Academy Award. Firelight Media is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and The New York Community Trust, among others. Visit Firelightmedia.tv.
The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ) was established in 1994 through an historic federal initiative designed to stimulate investment in distressed urban areas across the country. With the collaborative support of federal, state and city funding, UMEZ has reshaped the landscape of Upper Manhattan, investing over $230 million through loans, grants and tax incentives in Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood. In taking this leadership position, UMEZ has attracted nearly $1 billion in private capital and catalyzed one of the most impressive reinvestment initiatives in urban America. UMEZ continues in its mission to sustain the economic revitalization of all the communities of Upper Manhattan through job creation, corporate alliances, strategic investments and small business assistance. Visit UMEZ.org.
Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and beginning its 26th season on PBS in 2013, the award-winning POV is the longest-running showcase on American television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers. POV has brought more than 365 documentaries to millions nationwide. The series’ films have won 32 Emmys, 15 George Foster Peabody Awards, 10 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the Prix Italia. POV is the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Visit PBS.org/POV.
Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the desJardins/Blachman Fund and public television viewers. Funding for POV’sDiverse Voices Project is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.
The Futuro Media Group: Founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, The Futuro Media Group is an independent nonprofit media organization dedicated to producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. Futuro Media works in the public interest – informing and educating the public about compelling narratives, real lives and important stories often overlooked by mainstream media. Visit FuturoMediaGroup.org.
ImageNation: ImageNation Cinema Foundation is a Harlem-based media arts organization, founded with the goal of establishing a chain of art-house cinemas, dedicated to progressive media by and about people of color. Through a variety of public exhibitions and programs, ImageNation fosters media equity, media literacy, solidarity, cross-cultural exchange and highlights the humanity of Pan-African people worldwide. Visit ImageNation.us.
Maysles Documentary Center:
The Maysles Documentary Center, a not-for-profit organization, is dedicated to the exhibition and production of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Through our cinema and education programs we engage diverse communities in creative self-expression, communicating ideas and advocating needs. Our first commitment is to serve the Harlem community in which we work, though we also partner with various cultural and geographic communities in the New York City area.
MNN:Founded in 1992, Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) is New York City’s free, public access cable network. We operate four channels (Community,Lifestyle, Spirit, and Culture), reaching 620,000 cable subscribers in the Manhattan area. More than just a local TV station, MNN is the largest public access cable network in the nation with programs airing in over 40 languages. Visit MNN.org.
NBPC: The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) develops, produces and funds content about the Black experience for public media outlets, including PBS and PBS.org, BlackPublicMedia.org and other public media outlets. NBPC produces AfroPoP: The Utimate Cultural Exchange documentary series and manages the community engagement project Public Media Corps (PMC). Visit BlackPublicMedia.org.
WNET: In 2013, WNET is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of THIRTEEN, New York’s flagship public media provider. As the parent company of THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET brings quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters , Need to Know, Charlie Rose and a range of documentaries, children’s programs and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Oh Noah! and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, MetroFocus, the multi-platform news magazine focusing on the New York region. WNET is also a leader in connecting with viewers on emerging platforms, including the THIRTEEN Explore iPad App where users can stream PBS content for free. Visit WNET.org.
WNYC: New York Public Radio is New York’s premier public radio franchise, comprising WNYC, WQXR, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space and New Jersey Public Radio, as well as WNYC.org, WQXR.org,TheGreeneSpace.org and NJPublicRadio.org. As America’s most listened-to AM/FM news and talk public radio stations, reaching 1.1 million listeners every week, WNYC extends New York City’s cultural riches to the entire country on-air and online and presents the best national offerings from NPR, Public Radio International, American Public Media and the BBC. WQXR is New York City’s sole 24-hour classical music station, presenting new and landmark classical recordings as well as live concerts. In addition to its audio content, WNYC and WQXR produce content for live, radio and Web audiences from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station’s street-level multipurpose, multiplatform broadcast studio and performance space. Visit NYPublicRadio.