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