OFFBEAT: Third Annual Film Festival is ticket to film firsts in Gary

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2014-02-14T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Third Annual Film Festival is ticket to film firsts in GaryBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Gary actor William L. Johnson, an Emerson High School graduate, is once again returning this year to host the 3rd Annual Film Festival in Gary this month.

He helped launch the event in 2012 and is well-versed about Hollywood and the film and directing process.

African American Achievers Youth Corps, Inc., is once again partnering with other local groups to sponsor the fest which kicks-off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21 and continues at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, with all events at the Glen Theatre, 20 West Ridge Road, in Gary.

According to State Rep. Vernon Smith, one of the organizers for the event, it was Johnson's performance as a lead in director Craig Ross' "Blue Hill Avenue" that helped the movie garner top honors at film festivals. Some of Johnson's film projects include "Motives 2," "Mannsfield 12," "Crossover," "Doing Hard Time," "Tears of a Clown" and "Motives 1."

NIPSCO is also sponsor of this event, along with WLTH 1370 AM radio, Clark Road Church Foundation, Brother2Brother and Brothers' Keeper, Froebel Park Committee and NAACP Gary Chapter.

Smith said the festival is important because it not only brings the community together using media and discussion, but it also inspires youth with success stories from the industry. Other guests featured this weekend include actor, writer, producer and director Reggie Gaskins.

"Many people work hard all year to make this festival happen and we want it to keep growing year after year as a tradition," Smith said.

The opening night event features a reception and screening of the feature film "Note to Self," and the film shorts "Speaker of the House" and "Solstice." There will be a Q&A session with the producers of the films, and with actor Johnson.

Saturday's screenings include two feature films, "The Divorce" and "American Promise," with Q&A sessions with the producers and with actor Johnson.

Advance tickets are available at Beautiful Things boutique, 3570 Village Court in Gary FYI: (219) 985-8256 or from the NAACP Gary Chapter by calling (219) 949-5565. Advance tickets for Friday are $25 or $30 at the door and on Saturday, $15 in advance or $20 at the door. A combo ticket is also available for both nights for $35.

The film "Note to Self" is an inspirational drama that tells the story of Curtis King, a handsome and popular student athlete, who begins his senior year at college with everything he wants – except for love. He may know his way around the basketball court, but his heart still needs a game plan. When he decides to keep a journal to give his life a new direction, the path leads him straight to the love he needed most.

"American Promise" is a documentary I'm told has been 13 years in the making, that provides a rare look into the lives of two middle class black families as they navigate the ups and downs of parenting and educating their sons. The film explores the unique factors that they face as middle-class black boys coming of age at home, at school and in their community.

"The Divorce,"  is a comedy/drama begins with successful L.A. News Anchor Yolanda Massey celebrating her freedom by hosting her own divorce party. Her closest “sister-friends” and Sorors, have agreed to come along for the ride. What starts out as an innocent night of friends, fun, and frolic, quickly turns into an evening of “unforeseen revelations”, heartache, pain, and ultimately the loss of a friend.

Actress/producer Joanna Rhambo stars as the lead in "Solstice," about a woman who finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she is faced with verbal and physical abuse from her once loving beau.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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