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‘Wilmington on Fire’ Screening to Kick Off BLK Docs Film Initiative

The BLK Docs initiative intends to build an authentic documentary film culture within the Black community through screenings and webinars.

"Wilmington on Fire"

Archival footage from “Wilmington on Fire”

The Luminal Theater

Speller Street Films and The Luminal Theater have launched BLK Docs, a new monthly series that is dedicated to Black documentary filmmakers.

The initiative, which will kick off on June 25 with a virtual screening of documentary “Wilmington on Fire,” intends to help build an authentic documentary film culture within the Black American community through film screenings, webinars, and more interactive film events.

Per Speller Street Films, “Wilmington on Fire,” directed by Christopher Everett, unpacks the truth behind the Wilmington Massacre, the only successful coup d’etat on American soil. In 1898, in Wilmington, NC, an armed mob of Democrat-backed white supremacists opened fire on thriving middle-class Black American neighborhoods, slaughtering hundreds and exiling thousands out of the city for good. Tulsa and Rosewood have long been infamous, but Wilmington came first and was even more devastating in its effects.

Using rare photographs, original research, and testimonies from the descendants of the victims, the documentary reveals how the massacre became the springboard for white supremacy and Jim Crow throughout the American South, and how the devastation still affects Black American life to this day.

Subjects featured in the documentary include William Darity, an economist and author of “From Here to Equality, Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century,” North Carolina historian Larry Reni Thomas, environmental justice advocate Queen Quett, and clinical psychologist Umar Johnson.

The upcoming screening will also offer a teaser for the documentary’s upcoming sequel, titled “Wilmington on Fire: Chapter II.” BLK Docs will also host two Q&A sessions; the first will be held on June 25 with Everett, while the June 30 session will feature Thomas.

“Of course there are ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ ‘Whose Streets?’ and others, but for the most part Black-subject documentaries, especially those highlighted by big festivals, are made by non-Black directors,” The Luminal Theater’s Curtis Caesar John said in a statement. “While those directors are usually well meaning, by putting the focus on Black documentarians directly, BLK Docs will literally show that we are the most keen interpreters of our own stories and can create a system in which they can thrive.”

The “Wilmington on Fire” screenings cost $5. Tickets to the screening and more information about BLK Docs are available on the initiative’s website.

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