Middle Georgia’s never seen a film festival like the one happening this weekend in Macon

Video: Tubman museum opens to the public

Hundreds of people came to see the long-awaited opening of the Tubman African American Museum.
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Hundreds of people came to see the long-awaited opening of the Tubman African American Museum.

Seven films by African American filmmakers are being shown in Macon this weekend as part of the first-ever Tubman African American Film Festival.

Organizers said films range from documentaries to feature presentations involving both historical and contemporary stories. Two of the festival’s films are free. Costs for other films range from $5 for students at showings to $50 for an all-access pass.

There will be a gumbo lunch at 1 p.m. Saturday at the museum following the showing of the movie “Gumbo.”

“Our mission involves sharing African American art, history and culture,” said Andy Ambrose, the Tubman’s executive director. “That includes our Pan African Festival of Georgia which was last weekend for the 23rd year and brings thousands of visitors to town. It’s a celebration of the cultural impact of the African Diaspora as expressed in music, dance, food, film and art but we’ve never been able to give a big place to film. Now we can showcase it and African American filmmakers.”

Festival screenings and events will be at the Tubman, the Grand Opera House and Theatre Macon. A free, family friendly showing of “Cooley High” as a drive-in presentation will be at 6:15 p.m. Sunday in the Poplar Street parking lot behind the Tubman. The lot opens at 5 p.m.

Michele Prettyman is an assistant professor of media studies at Mercer University and the festival’s artistic director. Her task is to help select a sampling of important films attractive to varied audiences.

“We want to bring films people aren’t seeing at the local cineplex,” Prettyman said. “At the same time, we’re serving many different audiences so we have some documentaries on fairly serious matters, some films that are more historical, some political and some that are more have to do with fashion and culture.”

Another aspect of the Tubman festival is bringing African American film producers, writers and directors to share not only their work but their personal stories, lives and careers.

Following the festival’s opening reception Friday and the showing of “Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities,” there will be a question and answer session with its producer, Stacey Holman.

A similar session will be Saturday following “Always in Season” with its director, Jacqueline Olive.

“With film being such an important modern art form and film production becoming such a huge industry in Georgia, I think it’s important we present role models to young people,” Ambrose said. “Hopefully, they can inspire some and present options and careers many may not have known there was an opportunity for.”

The Tubman African American Film Festival is presented in partnership with the Macon Film Festival and support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Prettyman said a good way to keep track of the festival weekend is to find and follow it on Facebook.

Contact writer Michael W. Pannell at mwpannell@gmail.com.

Tubman African American Film Festival

Where: Various downtown venues

When: May 3-5

Cost: Free to $50 for all access pass

Information: www.tubmanmuseum.com, 478-743-8544