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Student, Faculty Work Featured at International Film Festival

This spring, University of Memphis students and faculty were featured during the On Location Memphis International Film Festival. The lineup included three new short films by graduate students and faculty and the first public screening of a new digital version of the hour-long documentary Black Diamonds, Blues City: Stories of the Memphis Red Sox  (1996).

Black Diamonds , a documentary about Memphis’ Negro League baseball team, was written and directed by Steven John Ross, Communication professor, and produced by Ross and John Haddock, U of M Math Department chair. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the film had a successful run at festivals and was seen on public television nationwide when first released.

“It was first shown as an analog production more than 15 years ago and seen on public television stations nationwide,” Ross said. “I am happy to say that this new digital transfer looks better than the film did when it was first shown.”

The film focused on Marlin Carter, Casey Jones, Frank Pearson, lefty Verdell Mathis and Joe B. Scott, who played for the Red Sox during the team’s prime. Scott, the last remaining member of this core group, recently passed making this screening all the more special.

“Having this screening now, after losing Joe, feels like the right thing to do,” Haddock said.

Other films screened at the festival were Ross’s latest effort, the 25-minute Four Scenes from King Lear . A restaging of scenes from the play, the film was based on the Ostrander Awardwinning New Moon Theatre production directed by Anita Jo Lenhart, associate professor in Theatre and Dance, at TheatreWorks. Stephen Hildreth, graduate student, was director of photography with a student crew.

Also screened was Hildreth’s film Yellow Light , a caustic and comic 15 minute look at romance. He produced it with Brian Fruits (MFA ’13), who also directed. Shot in Chicago, Yellow Light  starred Lauren Scott and Katie Zisson, recent graduates of the Theatre and Dance program who are pursuing careers there.

The final U of M contribution was Ash Requiem , a film by Film and Video graduate student David Goodman. It chronicled the journey he and his mother took in the summer of 2012 to scatter the ashes of his brother, Joseph. David Appleby, Communication professor, was project advisor on the film.

“This is, I think, the finest documentary film ever made by a graduate student in our program,” Ross said.

For more information about the Film and Video Production concentration, call the Department of Communication at 901.678.2565.

 behind the scenes: Bill Baker, Anita Jo Lenhart, James Green and Steve Ross

Verdell Mathis and Joe Scott shaking hands

Lauren Scott and Katie Zisson

Top: Bill Baker, Anita Jo Lenhart, James Green and Steve Ross on the set of Four Scenes From King Lear. Middle: Verdell Mathis, talented lefty, congratulates Joe Scott, who recently passed away. Above: Lauren Scott and Katie Zisson, 2011 Theatre alumni, in Yellow Light.

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Last Updated: 9/3/13