By D. Whitby / Photos: A. Davis
The Los Angeles premier of “FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement)” was screened at the Pan-African Film Festival on Friday, February 17, at the Rave Cinemas Theater in Baldwin Hills Plaza, kicking off a six city film tour. This was a one night exclusive screening of the film that gave viewers the opportunity to be introduced to the FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival brand; which has impacted a generation for over 18 years since it’s inception in Atlanta, Georgia.
The theater was filled with an array of curious spectators, critics, and attendees that consisted of filmmakers, music lovers, screen writers, playwrights, and cultural arts enthusiasts from around the world; along with notables in the entertainment industry, such as Jennifer Hudson, Sean Combs, Russ Parr, Melvin Van Peeples, Meagan Good, Loretta Devine, Pharoah Sanders, Eva Marcille, Keith Washington, Bill Duke, Ne-yo, Serena Williams, Kenny Leon, The Horne Brothers, Kevin Hart and many other actors. Director, Writer, and Producer of “FunkJazz Kafé: Diary of A Decade”, Jason Orr, was informed by officials from the Pan-African Film Festival that there was a buzz already in the air the entire week. This buzz helped generate an interest from not only from the viewers; however from the media including Access Hollywood, Nu-Soul Magazine, Blog Talk Radio/The Empowerment Hour, Fusicology, Giant Steps, Clutch Magazine, Basement Soul, EUR Web, Blackfilm.com, Unprogrammedminds Magazine and The Mother Love Show (which is a huge staple in the LA community).
Orr arrived to Rave Cinemas with soul music legend Larry Mizell and his family as they entered the theater where “Diary of A Decade” was shown. An anticipated diverse crowd of all ages, were already in their seats waiting patiently for the film to begin. Orr gave a brief introduction about the film to the audience before the start of the film. Two-hours later, the theater lights were turned on and Orr was welcomed again to a unanimous applause, cheers, and singing, from a joyful audience. Followed by the film credits was the Q & A, which is normally 20 minutes for most screenings; however, this screening was an hour long as everyone from the audience was eager to express themselves and give admiration to the film and Orr for making this possible.
Others gave gratitude to the conception of FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival and how important it is to expose the community and the world to “Diary of A Decade” due to its “historical”, “sophisticated” impact and legacy with soul music. Journalist Keiko Tsukada (Kokosoul) from Japan, commented on the “worldly” impact FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival has had in Japan, especially when international soul singer Toshi Kubota was featured at the festival in the mid nineties. Lady Paulette, producer of the feature film “The Story of Lover’s Rock” gave praise to Orr describing his film as “Brilliant from beginning to end!”. Jonathan Rudnick, Giant Step Co-founder, said it’s “a truly uplifting celebration of FunkJazz Kafé and the whole soul community’s quest for unity through music.”
The inspired audience continued to give their comments and questions to Orr until the theater lights went dark again, only this time as a signal to coerce the crowd to exit given the Q & A was proceeding past an hour. Orr thanked everyone for attending including acknowledging the notables that were in the audience, music legend Larry Mizell, “Daughters of the Dust” Director, Julie Dash, “Diary Of A Decade” cast member Joi Gilliam, Aysa Shein from Fusicology, Jonathan Rudnick Co-founder of Giant Step, Sonja Marie, Aaron Davis, Khalfani Rushiddin, and Laurnea Wilkerson, from music group Arrested Development; as well as thanking the Pan-African Film Festival Executive Producer, Ayuko Babu, and Founders, Danny Glover and Ja’Net DuBois.
Here’s a interview on “The Empowerment Hour” with Producer, Writer and Director, Jason Orr.
Interviewed by Kermit Eady covering the 2012 Pan African Film Festival:
Fast forward to 32:24 To hear Jason Orr’s interview.