From director Tim Sutton and producer John Baker comes a project titled Memphis, which is one of the 3 projects that will proceed to the second phase of the Biennale College – Cinema, which consists of a workshop that will make it possible to actually make a mini-budget film, with funding of 150,000 euro (about 150,000) each.
The 3 projects, each being either debut features or sophomore works, are chosen at the end of the first workshop are among the 15 previously selected projects from all over the world (presented by a team of one director and one producer) are.
The goal is to present the 3 feature-length films at the upcoming 70th Venice International Film Festival (August 28 – September 7 this year).
Memphis is described as follows:
Establishing its own inner rhythm with a meditative approach, Memphis follows the transformation of Ezra Jack from beloved soul singer to ecstatic contemplator. Immersed in ethereal folklore, soul music, urban decadence and the abstract rhythms of life and death, Memphis is a story that looks with subtlety at a man who achieves obscurity in the hope of finding salvation and rebirth.
Believing Ezra Jack to be a real-life person, I looked him up but the only Ezra Jack I found was Ezra Jack Keats, a white author and illustrator of mostly children’s books, who is maybe best known as the author/illustrator of the1962 children’s book, The Snowy Day, which is said to be one of the first of such books, in full color, to feature the first African American protagonist.
Ezra Jack Keats said he was inspired to do this because…
“None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along.”
Keats further wrote in an unpublished autobiography (portions of which have been printed in various publications since the author’s death in 1983 ):
“After The Snowy Day was published, many, many people thought I was black… As a matter of fact, many were disappointed that I wasn’t!”
Now, I don’t have any information that suggests that Sutton’s Memphis project is in any way inspired or connected to this Ezra Jack, or if they have abosolutely nothing to do with one another, and it’s all just a coincidence.
All the information I have suggests the Ezra Black in Sutton’s Memphis is black; he’s certainly not an author/illustrator (he’s a musician, according to the description of the project), and their lives read as totally different.
But I’ve made some inquiries, so when I know more, so will you.
The Biennale College – Cinema is a higher educational workshop for the development and production of micro-budget works, launched at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, 2012. At the close of an international call for participation, the initial submission counted 433 projects from 77 countries from around the world. 15 of these projects were selected, and their teams (one director and one producer) participated in the first workshop in Venice from January 7th through 17th, 2013.
The second workshop of the Biennale College – Cinema for the 3 selected teams will be held from February 18th through March 6th 2013 in Venice. This will be an intensive workshop dedicated to direction and pre-production, which will explore the visual aspects of the 3 projects. Each team will work with a mentor-director and a certain number of tutors/trainers for each different area, to ensure that, at the end of the workshop, the teams are ready to start, to shoot and to edit the film over the next five months, under the supervision of a team from the Biennale College – Cinema.
As far as existing media for Memphis, even though it hasn’t officially began shooting yet, I found a website that housed the photo at the top of this post, as well as both videos below; the first is essentially an glimpse of the director’s vision for the project; the second is a somewhat cryptic video interview with a “witness” to Ezra Jack I suppose; both were uploaded to Vimeo months ago: