Belafonte accepts lifetime achievement award Honors: 'Art is the most supreme and most powerful of instruments,' says the activist and performer.


November 13, 1998|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

Harry Belafonte received the first lifetime achievement award at the Heritage Shadows of a Silver Screen black film museum and cinema last Saturday.

At an invitation-only brunch, Belafonte spoke to the crowd of nearly 100 people for more than an hour, reminiscing about growing up the son of a single mother in Harlem; his service in World War II, after which he returned to "business as usual" of racism and segregation in the United States; and his coming under the tutelage of singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson.

Belafonte recalled that he met Robeson when he was studying at the American Negro Theatre in New York. Robeson made him realize that "art is the most supreme and most powerful of instruments," Belafonte said. "It's through culture and art that we know one another. Art should not just show life as it is, but life as it should be."

Belafonte was in Baltimore for a series of performances at the Meyerhoff; after the Heritage event, he met with author Taylor Branch, producer Jed Dietz and others to discuss "Parting the Waters," the adaptation of Branch's civil rights history. The mini-series, which Belafonte is executive producing with Branch and Jon Avnet, will air on ABC in January 2000.

In his introduction of Belafonte, Heritage founder Michael Johnson announced that the Heritage will officially open on Feb. 5, when Sidney Poitier will receive his own Lifetime Achievement Award. The Heritage Shadows of a Silver Screen museum and cinema, which will serve as a repository for African-American film memorabilia and will house a 200-seat theater, is at 5 W. North Ave.

The Heritage still needs $60,000 to complete renovation and rehabilitation of the building. Gil "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" Scott-Heron will appear at the museum Dec. 5 for two benefit performances. Tickets are $25.

For more information, call 410-528-8440.

1,000 attended film fest

The second edition of Baltimore's MicroCineFest, a four-day festival of underground, experimental and low-budget movies held in Fells Point last week, drew abou 1,000 filmgoers, &L according to festival founder Skizz Cyzyk.

"Bury the Evidence," J. Greg DeFelice's surreal drama about a man trapped in an apartment with only a list of chores, took the grand jury award for best feature at the festival. The MicroCineFest screening marked DeFelice's film's world premiere.

"Fast Food," Jonathan Fahn's drive-through homage to Martin Scorsese, won the grand jury award for best short film. Other big winners included "Yours," "Surrender Dorothy" and Tom E. Brown's ironic AIDS drama "Don't Run, Johnny."

Matthew Fulchiron, a Baltimore native living in Hollywood, won the "new discovery" award for his film "Quarter Life Crisis."

Cyzyk expressed some disappointment with "Bury the Evidence" taking the festival's highest honors. "I feel that giving the big award to the most expensive film in the festival sends the wrong signal," he said, adding that he didn't know that "Bury the Evidence" cost a whopping $170,000 until he had accepted the movie. Cyzyk added that he plans to keep the festival to one venue next year and to trim the number of films.

"We made it too big to be a MicroCineFest this year," he said. "We were all over the map hoping to please everyone. Now I know what doesn't work, so we'll have a much more concentrated program next year. And any film I wouldn't want to have to sit through a second time won't get programmed. I sat through a couple this year for the second time and realized that they were bad."

'Walk This Way'

Award-winning video- and filmmaker Jane Wagner ("Girls Like Us") will show her new film, "Walk This Way," an animated children's film about diversity and discrimination, as well as "Girls Like Us" and other work at the Maryland Institute, College DTC of Art on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The screening and discussion will take place at the Bunting Center, Room 110, 1401 Mount Royal Ave. The event is free. Call 410-225-2300.

The industry in our state

Local companies interested in learning more about Maryland's film industry are encouraged to attend "How to Do Business With Maryland's Film Production Industry," a seminar that will be held Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. until 11: 45 a.m. Maryland Film Office director Michael Styer and the Producers Club of Maryland president Jed Dietz will speak, along with Flite 3 Studio president Rita O'Brennan, Cooper Productions' Stuart Cooper and film producers Skizz Cyzyk and Jay Jaso.

The seminar, which is presented by the Baltimore-Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce, will be held at the Holiday Inn Columbia. Tickets are $25 for state Chamber of Commerce members and $35 for non-members. Call BWCC president Walt Townshend at 410-792-9714.

Women filmmakers

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.