Juneteenth Black Excellence Cinema Experience, June 19, free at Tampa Theatre

By J.A. Jones, Staff Writer

TAMPA – On Wednesday, June 19th, four filmmakers come together to present an evening of Black Film in honor of Juneteenth at the Tampa Theatre. The event is part of Film Tampa Bay Presents, a quarterly series showcasing Tampa Bay-area filmmakers and film industry creatives.

Cranstan Cumberbatch and Jabaar Edmonds of DreamMakerz Productions are joined by team member, artist, and filmmaker Debbie Yati Garrett, and Jibri Wright of Jibri Wright Films for the free screening at the Historic Duncan Auditorium at Tampa Theatre.

Cumberbatch and Edmond, founders of the Black Arts and Film Festival and the Sunshine City Film Festival, join forces with Film Tampa Bay to bring this event to Tampa Theatre. The FREE event kicks off at 6:00 pm with two short films:

Simi, written and directed by Debbie Yati Garrett and co-directed by Cumberbatch, follows the story of a man who awakens from a coma to find he has supernatural abilities that he uses with dangerous consequences.

The Mini Lights, directed by Jibri Wright, warns viewers to be careful what they read because some passages lead to the resurrection of the dead.

Nothing Else Matters, directed by Cumberbatch, is a comedic romance in an office setting.

After the shorts, the filmmakers join Jesse Brock of Film Tampa Bay on stage for a brief discussion and audience Q&A, followed by an hour of networking.

At 8:00 pm, audiences will enjoy the Tampa premiere of the feature film, AGENT X: Quarantine, directed by Jabaar Edmond, followed by a panel discussion with the director, cast, and crew. Agent X (played by Cumberbatch) is a former-military-mercenary-turned-secret-agent navigating the underworld of crypto-currency, cyber-security & Big Data, and a deep web of murder, money, revenge, and action.

“This event is special for ‘the culture’ because it celebrates diversity, inclusivity, and the rich heritage of Juneteenth,” noted Cumberbatch. “The event at the Tampa Theatre aims to honor this important milestone and showcase the contributions of Black culture to the arts and entertainment industry through the independence of storytelling in this medium.”

The filmmaker added that the journey to get two AGENT X films in the can has been a challenging yet rewarding process, involving extensive planning, coordination, and collaboration with various stakeholders including cast, crew, and production teams. “Overcoming obstacles, staying committed to the vision, and working tirelessly to bring the films to fruition were key aspects of this journey. The dedication and passion of everyone involved in the project have been instrumental in achieving this significant milestone.”

Garrett, who is also a founding member of the Pinellas Diaspora Arts Project and organizer of the Tampa Bay Chalk Festival, offers a breadth of experience and knowledge in a wide range of artistic disciplines – and her work is always firmly rooted in the journey of African spirituality and culture.

Garret noted that while African Americans have come a long way in the film genre, it is important today for independent filmmakers to acknowledge and honor the past, which is the point of this Juneteenth event. “I will be thinking about the filmmakers Oscar Micheaux, the first major African American male filmmaker, and Maria P. Williams, the first female African American filmmaker. This event brings the Tampa Bay audience together to commemorate what Micheaux’s and Willliams’s contributions have given birth to: the African American film culture,” she noted.

“This event will not only be not only historic but monumental for the indie film and entertainment art in the Tampa Bay Area. Like our iconic attractions, we’re building our own iconic niche of industry where it never existed,” Cumberbatch added.

The screening will be held in the Historic Duncan Auditorium and seating is open. Admission for the festival is free, but reservations are required: click here to reserve https://tampatheatre.org/movie/juneteenth-film-festival/

The first 150 patrons receive a free soda and popcorn. Admission is FREE, but reservations are required. Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602. 24 Hour Event Information, (813) 274-8981. Business & Box Office (813) 274-8286.

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