Greensboro / Winston-Salem / High Point May 6-12, 2021
The Return of
Winston-Salem’s international film festival is back. PAGE 7
$3 million for Marcus Smith? PAGE 5
The fight against anti-trans bills PAGE 4
May 6-12, 2021
Facebook for losers
don’t you’re on Facebook,” she noticed. That want to was the beginning of the end for me. talk about I’m still on there, mostly for professional Trump reasons — to share our articles, to stay except to say that abreast of happenings and read the level he lost his election of the room, to (occasionally) contribute and attempted an opinion to the public square — but also to overthrow the to look at pictures of my friends’ kids and by Brian Clarey federal governsee how everybody from high school and ment with the help of an angry mob of college has aged. I’m spending a lot more violent morons and most Congressional time on Twitter, which admittedly can be Republicans. And also to say that on just as toxic but not for me. My curated Wednesday, Facebook made the decifeed is mostly news sources and fellow sion not to reinstate his presence there, journalists I trust, with no obligation to where he infected the interact with the haters, entire network with his sock-puppets, low-inforlies about the election, mation loudmouths and ‘You only make among other atrocities. straight-up ignoramuses I only care about this that plague my Facethose noises when insofar as it affects the book presence. you’re on Faceentire nation, which Facebook is over, you book,’ she noticed. know. becomes afflicted with his rhetoric, riled up, They have legislative That was the infected and contagious and political problems. beginning of the just as surely as if they They have continuing end for me. caught the coronavimonetization challengrus — which, incidenes. They have technical tally, has happened to an issues. But the worst of inordinate amount of COVID-denying, it is that people under 25 years old don’t maskless, handshaking Trumpies. trust it and don’t use it. But I’m spending fewer hours on FaceSure, there are 2.7 billion active users book every week, inspired by the example right now, but I’m saying at least a third of of my wife, who has purged all social the personal accounts are bots and sock media from her life and is immeasurably puppets. Another third are sales pitches happier for it. from businesses and brand-building It started a couple months ago, when I influencers, or straight-up spam. And was scrolling through my feed, exclaiming then there’s the rest of us, an audience of on those posts that enraged, embarrassed diminishing returns: the olds. or frightened me, mostly with groans, Ask any young person: There are few growls and sighs. things sadder than an old trying to be cool “You only make those noises when on social media.
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Carolyn de Berry, Matt Jones, Jordan Howse, Jen Sorensen, Clay Jones, Nicole Zelniker
COVER A still from the short film “The Black Baptism” by Stephanie Diane Ford
May 6-12, 2021
CITY LIFE May 6-9 by Michaela Ratliff
Coronavirus in the Triad: (As of Wednesday, May 5)
Documented COVID-19 diagnoses NC 976,768 (+11,232) Forsyth 35,494 (+371) Guilford County
THURSDAY May 6
Kids’ Yoga @ Country Park (GSO) 4 p.m. Each Thursday through August, Greensboro Parks and Recreation is hosting yoga classes perfect for children age 7-10. For more information, call youth programs specialist Shelli Scott at 336.373.7757. Salsa for Beginners @ Break’N Out Dance Studio (GSO) 6:30 p.m.
Documented recoveries NC
33,530 (as of 4/24)
Current cases NC
Hospitalizations (right now) NC
Vaccinations NC First Dose
2,862,840 (31.6%, +146,111)
Forsyth First Dose
112,163 (33.4%, +5,531)
Guilford First dose
162,268 (34.2%, +8,914)
For just $10, dancers of all ages and experience levels are invited to this salsa lesson. Don’t worry about registering in advance. Just show up ready to dance! Visit the event page on Facebook for more information. Trivia @ Natty Greene’s Brewing Co. (GSO) 7 p.m. Gather your team of four people or less and head to Natty Greene’s to play trivia and compete for prizes. Arrive early as the bar is operating at 50 percent capacity. Visit the event page on Facebook for more info.
FRIDAY May 7
DADA First Friday Gallery Hop @ Downtown Arts District Association (W-S) 7 p.m. The Downtown Arts District Association presents its 5th annual gallery hop with the theme “Alice in Wonderland.” Take a photo at DADA headquarters in your wackiest hat for the chance to win a prize. Enjoy baked goods and a cup of Earl Grey during the Mad Tea Party. Meet the Artists Reception @ Artworks Gallery (W-S) 7 p.m. Charles Hahn’s current project, Complexities, and Nuances of the Human Spirit, and Katherine Mahler’s Wayfinding will be on display at the gallery until May 30. Stop by the gallery for a reception in which the artists will discuss their individual works. Visit Artworks’ website for more info. Spring Opera: French Opera Double Bill @ UNCSA (W-S) 7:30 p.m. The AJ Fletcher Opera Institute at UNCSA presents two one-act French operas for your virtual viewing pleasure. Sophie Arnoud is a recollection of the life of the singer. L’heure Espagnole (The Spanish Hour) is a comedic opera about a jealous man with a flirtatious wife. Tickets are free and can be reserved on UNCSA’s website.
SATURDAY May 8
Wildflower Sale @ Piedmont Environmental Center (HP) 8 a.m. Stop by PEC’s greenhouse to browse more than two dozen species of wildflowers — such as purple coneflower, milkweed and black-eyed Susan — to add to your garden for just 75 cents a seedling. Find more information on the event page on Facebook. Ardmore Art Walk @ Ardmore Neighborhood (W-S) 11 a.m. Celebrate Mother’s Day weekend at the 3rd Ardmore Art Walk, featuring the works of more than 60 local artists, eight live bands and food trucks. Visit the event page on Facebook for a printable event map and more information. Spring 2021 NC Radio Play Festival @ CPF Radio Hour (Online) 7:30 p.m. Cary Playwrights’ Forum in partnership with the Greensboro Playwrights’ Forum have co-produced an audio play festival. Each weekend this month, two plays will premiere on the CPF Radio Hour podcast site. On this day, enjoy “Call Center” and “Lost Time.” Be sure to check the CPF Facebook page and YouTube channel for premiere links. The event is free with no registration required, but donations are appreciated.
SUNDAY May 9
Mother’s Day Market @ Wise Man Brewing (W-S) 12 p.m. Shop for the perfect Mother’s Day gift from vendors selling handmade crafts during this market. Food will be provided by Twin City Minis and Gusto! Latin Eatery food trucks. Mother’s Day Paint & a Pint @ Bull City Ciderworks (GSO) 2 p.m.
Bull City Ciderworks in partnership with Nailed It DIY is hosting a Mother’s Day event where you can get creative. Enjoy a pint of cider while choosing from various plank designs to decorate. Visit the event page on Facebook to purchase materials in advance.
Shot in the Triad
May 6-12, 2021
Trans individuals and allies face off against discriminatory bills in NC by Nicole Zelniker
s the executive director of the Guilford Green Foundation and LGBTQ Center in Greensboro, Jennifer Ruppe fields calls from transgender teens and their parents all the time. The calls range from medical questions to inquires about how to get involved in the community. But four times last year, Ruppe got calls from families with devastating news: Their children had died by suicide. “All of those have been related to gender identity,” Ruppe said. “Not because they don’t know who they are, but because they’re not allowed to be who they are.” If passed, recent bills in the North Carolina House and Senate would prevent young people in the state from transitioning, or accessing any sort of gender-affirming care. In Ruppe’s experience, the lack of support could be deadly. North Carolina is not the only state with anti-transgender bills. Across 30 states this year, conservatives have introduced close to 100 bills targeted at the trans community. “These bills will kill people,” Ruppe said. “I can tell you we’ll get more than four phone calls a year if this passes.” Currently in North Carolina, there are three anti-transgender bills being considered. The bills in question largely revolve around young people. HB358 mandates that trans teens play on high school sports teams that match the gender they were assigned at birth and includes Rep. John Faircloth of Guilford County as one of its sponsors. SB515 would allow doctors to discriminate against transgender patients. Another bill, SB514 would have denied gender-affirming healthcare to people under the age of 21, required teachers to out trans students and legalized conversion therapy, but as of April 20, legislators stated they are no longer considering SB514. Legislators are also considering three pro-trans bills in the state legislature, all bills that Democrats had previously failed to pass. They would prohibit discrimination, repeal the anti-trans bathroom bill and ban conversion therapy for young people. The package would also introduce new legislation that would ban a “panic defense” in the courtroom, a defense
which previously excused violent behavior if the perpetrator had been alarmed upon learning their victim was queer or trans and lashed out. These bills were introduced just days after HB358 was introduced. As these bills move through the state government, LGBTQ+ organizations in the Triad like Guilford Green Foundation have been teaching individuals about what the bills would do and who the sponsors are. “A lot of what we are currently doing is trying to stem disinformation coming from these bills about what a trans youth may go through or have access to,” said Melvy Shaw, manager of the LGBTQ Center at the Guilford Green Foundation. Shaw herself is transgender and aware of this, Johnson said. explained that in her experience, much “None of the authors of these bills of what conservatives say about the bill have taken the time to sit down with are lies. trans children,” she said. “It’s akin to me For example, “When the stories iniwriting a book report without reading tially started to come out, one local news the book.” organization said it would effect a trans For folks who work with trans teens teen’s ability to get a vasectomy,” said regularly, the harm that these bills could Shaw. “I don’t think I’ve ever met a trans cause is obvious. Katie Murawski is teen whose No. 1 concern is… to get a the co-chair of public relations at the vasectomy.” Greensboro Roller Derby, which inHB358 was initially referred to educacludes several transgender members. tion committees, but was later referred to “Whenever the legislation was the rules committee on April 26. SB515 introduced, one of our trans skaters was referred to the Senate rules commitreached out to our group on Facebook tee on April 6. Both bills and their counand asked if we had seen terparts would still have to it,” Murawski said. “After be approved by the House, Across 30 states that, we wanted to address Senate and Gov. Cooper. this year, this and not just in a social Shaw cannot say what conservatives media post. One of our she thinks will happen to have introduced core values is inclusion, the bills. “I have a hard time close to 100 bills so we started brainstorming about what we can do saying one way or another targeted at the more.” because when I saw HB2 I The team ended up colthought, This is a smoke show. trans community. laborating with Guilford It’s not going to pass,” she said. Green, making a video highlighting trans “And it did.” skaters’ experiences and calling their Like Guilford Green, Equality NC has representatives, among other things. also been working to support the trans “The Republicans are really dehucommunity in the state. manizing a lot of people because they “The biggest fear is for people who want their base to vote for them,” she receive any transition-related care,” said said. “But it’s not all about winning Kendra R. Johnson, executive direcelections. It’s about taking care of your tor of Equality NC. “That is absolutely community.” essential treatment, and their fear is that Mental health professionals like Shana they won’t have access to something Renée Gordon says that prohibitive bills that is medically necessary for their own like the ones being introduced can have mental health, acceptance of their idenan adverse effect on trans individuals’ tity, and safety in their community.” mental health. But the authors of the bill, including those from the Triad, likely aren’t even
“It’s caused a lot of unnecessary upset,” said Shāna Renée Gordon, a therapist with Tree of Life Counseling and certified gender specialist by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. As a therapist, Gordon works primarily with transgender individuals and those who identify as LGBTQ+. Trans children are at especially higher risk of suicide than their peers. A survey by the Trevor Project released in 2020 revealed that 52 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported having considered suicide, and 41 percent reported having attempted suicide. This is no surprise, considering that the same survey found 40 percent of trans and nonbinary youth had been physically threatened or hurt because of their gender, and 50 percent had been kicked out of their homes. Were the bills to pass, medical providers like Gordon would be unable to provide the same standard of affirmative care for transgender patients. “I can’t figure out any good reason that a board would go along with this and sanction me for providing good guidance to a child, that they would take my license,” Gordon said. For now, Gordon is asking the community to stand with their trans members. “All I can ask is for anyone who cares for someone who’s trans to stand up for them,” she said. “Things like this, we keep thinking they’ll go away, and they’re not. If you love them, say something, do something, anything. Speak out.”
May 6-12, 2021
GSO community calls for city officials to settle as rumors of a $3 million offer in the Marcus Smith case makes its rounds by Sayaka Matsuoka
Up Front News
Activists call for justice in the Marcus Smith case during an event in March.
Shot in the Triad Puzzles
seen throughout the country in other cases in which Black people have been killed at the hands of police. In March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay George Floyd’s family $27 million to settle the civil lawsuit, making it the largest pretrial civil rights settlement ever, according to the AP. In September, the city of Louisville, Ky. paid Breonna Taylor’s family $12 million. In September 2015, Freddie Gray’s family agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the city of Baltimore after Gray died in police custody. In the case of Philando Castile, the city of St. Anthony, Minn. paid his family $3 million and $800,000 to his girlfriend. And in the case of Tamir Rice, his family was paid $6 million. Activists, who sometimes refer to Smith as “Greensboro’s George Floyd,” say that a proper settlement won’t bring Smith back but would be a start. Taylor said that it’s a shame that Marcus Smith’s case has been handled so differently from the George Floyd case when the two incidents are eerily similar. “The cases are similar, but the way the cities have reacted are radically different,” Taylor said. “In Minneapolis they knew they needed to make amends and apologize for that kind of conduct. Here in Greensboro, the opposite has happened; they doubled down. The powers that be in Greensboro continue to defend the… hogtying of Marcus Smith and justify the coverup.”
said that the drawing out of the legal councilmember has publicly stated regret battle between the Smith family and the in terms of how the city has handled the city is causing stress on the family memMarcus Smith case. bers, who live in South Carolina and During a city council meeting on April often make the trip to Greensboro. 20, in a remarkable split from precedent “For the Smith family, it’s painful and the rest of council, Kennedy apolothat the case has continued to be in the gized for her silence and complicity in public light,” Taylor said. “It’s painthe ways in which city council has acted ful that the Smith family has to answer in the Marcus Smith case. unwarranted attacks that the city has “By sitting here and taking a stance made on them. It is painful that the city of silence while we know an incredibly will not apologize. You can understand broken and racist system continues to that any just settlement exist, makes me comin this case would not plicit,” Kennedy said. only include financial “Not just in the death ‘My understanding compensation but also of Marcus Smith, but is that our attorneys require an apology to in the death of every brought a range of the family and some Black man at the hands $300,000 to $3 kind of memorial to of that system. The Marcus Smith… and million to negotiations only thing that I can do that has never hapat this point to try and at that time.’ pened.” move back in the direc– Michelle Kennedy Reached by email tion that my conscience on Tuesday, Greenswas telling me that I boro city attorney should have stayed in Chuck Watts replied that there was a the whole time… calling for an indepenconfidential settlement conference with dent investigation even though we are in Mary Smith last year and that there was the midst of litigation.” “genuine intent to try to find common Still, those who spoke during the pubground and a way to resolve the case lic comments period during Tuesday’s without having to proceed through the city council meeting said that starting a litigation process.” He also stated that new investigation was unnecessary and the discussions had during the mediated that it was time for the city to settle with settlement conference are “confidential” the Smith family. and making statements about them According to Pitts, the family and would be “inappropriate and unfair.” activists are hoping for a settlement that As far as apologies go, only one city is close to or similar to other settlements
he Greensboro community is calling on city officials to settle with the Smith family after a legal battle that has spanned almost three years. On Tuesday evening’s city council meeting, a handful of speakers called upon Greensboro city councilmembers to stick to their promise of transparency and to settle the civil lawsuit that has been ongoing since the death of Marcus Deon Smith in September 2018. “You as our elected officials have the power to do these things, but something is holding you back,” said community member Marcia Foutch. “We are asking you to stop holding back.” The comments were made in light of a circulating rumor: that the city had offered the Smith family a settlement of $3 million last fall. According to activist Lewis Pitts, who has been in close contact with the Smith family, at-large councilmember Michelle Kennedy told him that the city council had come to a consensus that they should offer $3 million to the Smith family. In a text to Triad City Beat, Kennedy clarified by responding, “In October 2020, we reached consensus to make an offer not to exceed $3 million.” In a subsequent text, Kennedy stated, “My understanding is that our attorneys brought a range of $300,000 to $3 million to negotiations at that time.” In response, Flint Taylor, one of the lawyers representing the Smith family told TCB via a phone call that they had never been offered an amount close to $3 million. “No such offer has ever been made,” Taylor said. “Nothing even close to that.” The importance of the $3 million total is paramount because Taylor said that if the family had been offered a settlement anywhere close to that, then negotiations could have continued between the Smith family and the city. Instead, since last fall, the city has spent more than $778,277 in attorney fees to continue the case, according to public records requests. “If both sides had continued in good faith, if the city had made an offer like that, then there would have been negotiations with a real possibility of a resolution of the case,” Taylor said. Now, almost three years later, Taylor
At RiverRun, a look at the state of NC filmmaking
Claytoonz by Clay Jones
his week’s RiverRun Internaing. Allocations for this have crept up tional Film Festival, even in from $10 million in 2014 to $31 million this pandemic year, brings this year. A bill in the NC Senate right more than a hundred films now, sponsored by Sen. Paul Lowe from around the world. It’s noteworthy of Forsyth County and Wilmington’s that so much of the festival’s best work senator, Sen. Michael Lee, would add originates in its home state of North another $34 million. Carolina. This is by design; UNCSA That Lowe, a Democrat, and Lee, alum always feature prominently on the a Republican, can stand together on slate, and despite a somewhat hostile this bill shows that the film industry is political climate, NC has a rich history positive in a non-partisan way. And yet in the annals of film. the film business can still There once was a be very much a political tax credit for filmmakThe CW shot all of game. ing in NC so generous After a generous its original that the CW television program begun in 2008, network shot almost all Georgia has led the programming of its original programnation in film and televihere. Remember sion shots per year since ming here. Remember “Dawson’s Creek”? That ‘Dawson’s Creek’? 2016. In our state, that was us! was the year HB2, the That was us! There was so much anti-trans “Bathroom film activity that people Bill,” drove scores of film started calling Wilmingshoots out of NC, along ton, where many of the studios had set with sporting events like the NBA All up shop, “Wilmywood.” Star Game. When the Republicans took over the Renewed interest in marginalizstate legislature in 2010, the film credit ing trans folks through legislation in was dropped and much of the shooting Raleigh, as well as a slew of bills making moved to Louisiana and Georgia, who it harder for Black and Brown people to offered more generous incentives. vote, will do little to increase our standNow, state film incentives stand at a ing here. 25 percent rebate for qualified spend-
625 North Trade ST. Winston-Salem NC, 27101
Shot in the Triad
May 6-12, 2021
Dir. Alex Morelli, USA, 2020, 11 min. Screening virtually and at SECCA on Saturday, May 8 @ 8:30 p.m.
Dir. Thomas Southerland, USA, 2021, 69 min. Screening virtually and at Bailey Park on Friday, May 14 @ 8:30 p.m.
Opinion Culture Shot in the Triad Puzzles
verything they own has to fit into one black trash bag and a plastic bin. At the Bethesda Center for the Homeless in Winston-Salem, no one person’s story is the same. Some found their way to the shelter after being kicked out by family members. Others struggled with substance abuse. Some were fired and didn’t have the savings to keep paying for their own place. The list goes on and on. In the course of about 70 minutes, Bethesda: A Shelter’s Story, highlights the lives of dozens of unhoused individuals who have sought refuge at the shelter. Examples include a woman named Tammy — all of the individuals interviewed go by first names only — who had been living at Bethesda for five months before her case managers helped her secure her own apartment. “Once you have a house of your own, there’s nothing more satisfying and more gratifying,” she says in an interview at the shelter. Four months later, the filmmakers catch up with her in her new apartment. “I cried so much that day they brought me here,” she says as she looks around her new place. “To just step over that threshold and step into the house itself, even though we didn’t have anything to begin with, it was just the most amazing, incredible feeling I’ve ever had in my life.” She explains how she had been working as a chef for years after graduating from cooking school when she was in a car accident in 2014 that broke her neck in six places. Now, it’s hard for her to lift heavy objects, but she says her dream is to own a restaurant or a food truck someday. In addition to extremely candid, personal interviews with the residents and graduates of the shelter, the film takes a look at the inner workings of Bethesda, too. While it operates as a day and night shelter for the homeless, the filmmakers show the labor that goes on behind the scenes by the shelter staff to help the residents succeed. Examples include helping individuals get ID cards, acquire free furniture for their apartments and referrals for drug treatment programs. “If anybody says that Bethesda Center didn’t help them, it’s because they didn’t help themselves,” says one resident. Through interviews and glimpses into the residents’ lives, the film humanizes and empathizes deeply with a population that is so often erased and victimized by society. They show the heroes of the story who range from the residents themselves to the staff and volunteers that act as the cheerleaders for people going through some of the toughest parts of their lives. The title reflects the name of the shelter, but in reality, the film is a story about people. “At the end of the day, most people in the homeless community just want you to see them as human,” says one resident. “Not for their brokenness.” – SM
he most powerful scenes in Alex Morelli’s “Becoming” are not at all visual, but rather auditory in nature. The bulk of the film, which spans just 11 minutes, is narrated by two people over scenes of festivals, protests and citizenship ceremonies. The stories they tell get at the immigrant experience, especially how complex it is. The first narrator is Morelli’s partner Barbara, an Argentinian immigrant. The other is Morelli, who is quizzing Barbara presumably for a citizenship test. Once, Morelli asks Barbara if she can name a promise she will make upon becoming a US citizen. Barbara answers, “To disavow my loyalty to Argentina.” It is only partially a joke. Watching his partner go through the citizenship process was the catalyst for Morelli to start recording snippets of their experience the summer leading up to the citizenship ceremony. “During that summer, Barbara was also conducting fieldwork in the Arizona borderlands, participating in water drops and other forms of resistance with humanitarian aid organizations,” he said. “When I went to visit her, I brought my camera along in case these experiences somehow resonated with or complicated her impending oath of citizenship.” Morelli also includes other events such as the Hispanic League Fiesta in Winston-Salem leading up to the citizenship ceremony. He talks about the difficulties he faced in making the scenes fir cohesively. “It was only after recording these events that I began to consider the challenge of assembling them into a film,” he said. Based in Durham, Morelli has made films all over the map in terms of subject matter, from fiction to music videos to conspiracy theories. Though his filmmaking experience is clear in the deliberate shots throughout the work, bouncing between Barbara’s immigrant’s experience and clips from the summer left “Becoming” feeling unfocused at times, especially because of its shorter length. Still, the success of the film lies in its ability to shed light on the immigrant experience. As the viewer watches Barbara’s experiences, they too, feel the frustration brought upon the grueling process of immigrating to the United States. “In making this film, I learned to embrace impressionism and feel more comfortable inserting my own voice – and implicating myself in the US’s imperialism,” Morelli said. “I also learned more about Barbara’s experience as an immigrant, how US citizenship registers as a small blip in a process of ‘becoming’ — and is not necessarily even what many immigrants want.” In the end, although Barbara has chosen to become a citizen, she still doesn’t “feel ready to make that promise” to be loyal to the U.S. To her, Argentina will always be home. – NZ
Bethesda: A Shelter’s Story
t’s finally back. After a year of uncertainty and a cancellation of last year’s event, RiverRun is back with both in-person and virtual streamings of the kind of high-caliber, lesser-known films we’ve come to associate with the festival. Among our picks are local filmmakers who shot in the Triad or highlighted one of our three cities in some way. We picked films that tackle transgender identity, immigration, the Black experience and more while working to ensure that both documentaries and feature films are included. So if like the rest of us, you’ve missed watching films that haven’t been targeted to you by Netflix, check out some of these flicks from this year’s round-up.
May 6-12, 2021
THE RETURN OF RIVERRUN
Dir. Stephanie Diane Ford, USA, 20 min. Screening virtually.
Dir. A Scree
May 6-12, 2021
‘The Black Baptism’
o much symbolism, so much allegory, so much metaphor packed into this 20-minute short. Is it a murder mystery? Is it a creation story? Is it a spiritual manifesto? Is it an Afro-futurist psycho-thriller? Maybe it’s all of them, maybe it’s none. Stephanie Diane Ford’s piece begins with our protagonist, naked and dirty, crawling through a hole in the wall. She’s a prisoner, though she’s unsure of her crime, and the way out is unclear. As she slowly becomes conscious of her situation, Ford taps into Arthurian legend, the Electra Complex, the Egyptian pantheon and the Book of Genesis to bring our hero through her arc. This is a first foray into the director’s chair for Ford, whose history includes a business degree and time in Paris working towards a career in fashion before she settled in Durham to work in film. Ultimately, “The Black Baptism” is her story, and the story of all Black women as they navigate their precarious position in the world, their struggle to over-
come. And though its central message may be key to a Black woman’s survival in this hard world, it has universal appeal: Fear is a lack of imagination. – BC
signifi cause “A l “We s share it’s be The incarc The have eters Nixon Wo does “Th “and poor Dan years –N
Shot in the Triad
Dir. Byron Lamarque, USA, 82 mins Graham Pritz-Bennett, screenwriter Outdoor screening Tuesday, May 11 at SECCA
t would have been a fairly simple matter, in screenwriting terms, to craft The Desiring as a standard narrative about a cheating housewife and her betrayed spouse, replete with wild sex scenes and, eventually, a grisly revenge. But Graham Pritz-Bennett’s script is both less and more, avoiding the more salacious aspects of the extramarital affair for a more subtle take on the notions of love, marriage, friendship and desire. It’s his first feature script, a project undertaken with his creative partner and mentor Byron Lamarque, who directed while Pritz-Bennett wrote and shot it. And while the film takes place in Winston-Salem, where he grew up, its creative genesis runs through Raleigh, Canada and Europe. Pritz-Bennett attended NC State for engineering and economics after graduating from Forsyth Country Day School. He met Lamarque while studying for a master’s degree in theology in Vancouver; they began shooting short films, music videos and TV commercials. “[Lamarque] was kind of my film school,” he says. “I started writing this feature up in Vancouver, and Byron and I made a short before making the feature.” “We started by asking, ‘What if?’” Pritz-Bennett continues. “That itch. We
scratched at it to see where it went.” His influences for The Desiring, he realized, leaned towards Flannery O’Connor and the Southern Gothic esthetic. So he rewrote the script from his home in Scotland, where he’s been living with his wife while she attains her PhD, with an eye on shooting in his hometown. “It needed to be in the South,” he says. And so we see establishment shots in downtown Winston-Salem and Belews Creek, where at certain times of the year there is a singular quality to the light in this part of North Carolina. “I’ve shot so much in Vancouver and Edinburgh,” he says, “[but] looking back this film, all the outdour scenes. We used so much natural light for this feature. There’s just a quality to it that I can’t replicate in the various cities that I’ve shot in.” He won’t be in town for RiverRun — it’s tough to travel outside of the United
Ki M af
st Over The Line’
Dir. Timothy Hall, USA, 2021, 82 min. Screening virtually at SECCA on Saturday, May 15 @ 8:30 p.m.
Shot in the Triad Puzzles
imothy Hall’s Landlocked puts a twist on an old trope. Plenty of movies exists about sons looking to reconnect with estranged parents. But in this feature film, the parent is transgender. Landlocked is Hall’s second film to star actors Dustin Gooch and Ashlee Heath. This one features Gooch as Nick, husband to Heath’s Abby and father to young Davis, struggling after the death of his mother. That tragedy is the catalyst for Nick to reconnect with Briana, who left when he was very young. Briana, played by transgender actor Delia Kropp, emerges as a fully fleshed out, complex character through her relationship with her son and through glimpses of her past. Throughout the film, she is seen struggling to reconnect with Nick in the present, despite their past which has been marred by internalized transphobia and bad parenting. In watching the film, the viewer might, however, wish they knew more about the characters. Landlocked offers bits and pieces of Nick as the film progresses — that he is selfish, that he struggles with transphobia, that he cares deeply for his own son — but there’s still a distance throughout the movie that makes it difficult to empathize with his character. For much of the movie, we are left wondering why Nick reached out to Briana at all, even though he says it is because his wife told him to. The same thing goes for Briana and her motivations for acting. For example, Nick brings up to his wife that he isn’t sure how Briana has remained religious through everything, but we never get the answer. Likewise, the film struggles at times to find the point. The viewer begins with Nick and his journey to open a restaurant, but we don’t learn about Briana or their estrangement until nearly 15 minutes in. Some of the best parts of the film included the music, done by Son of Cloud, and the careful use of dialogue. Most importantly, the film does vital work in humanizing trans parents and showing the complicated relationships they might have with their families.
ingdom right now, he says — but he’s definitely feeling the hometown pride. Members of his family will be at the screening at SECCA on Tuesday. And he’s been fan of RiverRun since he was a kid. “I really respect RiverRun as a film festival because it has a great balance to it,” e says. “New talent. New voices. So much integrity.” – BC
n a mere 11 minutes, “Just Over The Line” tackles the imbalance of power in the criminal justice system, specifically across two counties in Asheville. The film focuses on Daniel Noell, a man arrested for drug trafficking in Yancey and Buncombe Counties. Though the charges are the same, he is given ficantly more time in Yancey County compared to Buncombe County simply bee of the judge. lot of the film is based on phone calls with Daniel,” said director Adams J. Wood. still talk about once a week, and I have learned so much from things that he has ed about life in prison and his life before. It’s been really eye-opening for me, and een rewarding to get to know him, beyond making the film.” e viewers learn about his mother and sister, both of whom died while Daniel was cerated, and Daniel’s daughters, who are waiting for his release. e film also incorporates context, specifically how the judges in any given county almost total control over how long a person is incarcerated, within the paramof the charge. There is also background information that traced the effects of the n-era War on Drugs and how policies from the 1990s hurt people like Noell today. ood’s previous documentaries have focused mainly on the environment, but he not think of this film as much of a stretch. he environment you’re in influences the choices you make to survive,” he said, in our system, some of those choices can lead to incarceration, especially if you’re and Black.” niel has been incarcerated for four years this June. He had been sentenced to six s in June 2017. NZ
May 6-12, 2021
Adams J. Wood, USA, 2020, 11 min. ening virtually and at SECCA on Saturday, May 8 @ 8:30 p.m.
May 6-12, 2021
Life in the Sacrifice Zone
Dir. Chad Nance, USA, 2021, 88 min. Screening virtually; Marketplace Drive-In on Thursday, May 13 @ 8:30 p.m.
ou can try to get Winston-Salem fixture Chad Nance to sit down and talk about Life in the Sacrifice Zone, his very first feature of any type and also his first RiverRun film ever. And he’ll get to it. But along the way you’ll hear about his family farm, his job as a weed columnist for Skunk magazine, Hunter S. Thompson, George Clinton’s onetime fondness for crack cocaine, his time at UNCSA, the unsung genius of Sylvester Stallone and Nance’s own fondness for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Nance is father to an exuberance of projects, enjoined most often with his life partner Carissa Joines, who has mastered the ability of focusing Nance’s light on one thing at a time: Camel City Dispatch, the muckracking journalism site that covered Winston-Salem, plus music videos for a slew of local artists, short docs, tall tales. He covered Pazuzu, Winston-Salem’s quasi-satanist and cannibal, extensively in CDC and helped on a Vice documentary about the crimes. Life in the Sacrifice Zone is journalism of a less sensational nature — a chronicle of abuses by Duke Energy’s coal plan on Belews Creek, just outside WinstonSalem, where coal-ash spillage created health problems for predominantly Black communities in its wake. As a villain, Nance says that Duke Energy is even more sinister than Pazuzu, who may have eaten his victims before burying them in his yard. “Duke affected people who did not make the choice to get in their path,” Nance says. “The people of Walnut Cove didn’t choose to be poisoned by Duke. Duke invaded their neighborhood. Whereas the people who came to Pazuzu’s house, they chose to be in Pazuzu’s house.” And where Pazuzu died of a suspicious suicide before he stood trial, Duke Energy survived multiple convictions in court. “Felonies,” Nance says. “There’s nothing to dispute: They’re criminals; they’ve been convicted of crimes. This is how a business can manipulate state law. “In North Carolina,” he says, “you can’t punch any higher than Duke Energy.”
Shot in the Triad
Lily Topples the World
Dir. Jeremy Workman, USA, 2021, 91 min. Screening virtually; Marketplace Drive-In on Friday, May 14 @ 8:30 p.m.
nd just like that, it’s over. The hours, days and sometimes weeks of planning, stacking and building, comes to a fall in mere seconds. The grace of one plink! of plastic hitting the other, the inertia of the first tap, trickling, creating a wave of motion accompanied by piano tracks. It’s really a miracle that they topple the way they’re supposed to. Domino-building is a niche sort of art in which the final product can’t be realized until the very end, after that first piece is toppled and everyone holds their breath and prays all the pieces fall, literally, into place; it takes kind of a leap of faith. In his documentary, Lily Topples the World, Director Jeremy Workman beautifully captures the ethereal art of domino-building by following the rise of Lily Hevesh, a young domino artist, one of the most famous and successful in the world. Quiet and deliberate, yet warm and humble, Hevesh makes the perfect heroine for this seemingly random hobby as Workman captures her journey as a YouTuber to the launch of her own line of dominos. And while the film expertly captures the minute details that go into creating large-scale domino sculptures — the planning process, the counting, the math, the physics of it all — Lily Topples the World is also a poignant coming-of-age tale in which viewers get to know Hevesh’s identity and personality as a girl who is just carving out her place in the world. A Chinese-American adoptee, the film asks hard questions of Hevesh about her link to her Chinese heritage as well as what it’s like to be the only female domino-builder at a world-class level. “I didn’t know how to be me because I didn’t know who I was,” Hevesh says at one point in the film. Like many other kids her age, she describes the loneliness of going through middle and high school and feeling out of place. Now 19 years old in the film, Hevesh says she’s much more confident in who she is. “This Lily is much happier,” she says, smiling. Along the way, snapshots of her working with stars such as Will Smith and Jimmy Fallon make their way into the plot, but the most successful parts of the film are quiet. Scenes where Hevesh works alone, hour after hour, domino after domino, building her masterpieces are what will grab viewers and make it so it’s nearly impossible for them to not root for her when the final push comes to shove. “With dominos, if you have an idea, it’s likely that you can do it,” Hevesh explains. And so, she does. – SM
Dir. Edson Jean, USA, 2021, 81 min. Screening virtually
reasts are never too heavy for those who have them.” The message appears in both English and Haitian Creole in white font against a black screen, setting the tone for a film with themes of female empowerment and independence. In this feature film, Ludi, a nurse enduring financial struggles, immigrates to Miami’s Little Haiti for a better life, saying that the United States has “so many options. If you don’t like one you just try something else on.” The relatable, emotional film sheds light on the experiences of working women who immigrate to America, like sending most of their earnings family in their home country. “They send you here for a better life, but you
spend your entire life trying to pay them back,” Ludi says just after falling asleep mid-conversation with a patient, reflecting on the exhausting measures she’s using to do so, such as working overtime. It also provides an interesting look at the swapping of “gender roles” as this film shows Ludi as the sole breadwinner in her family, a role typically assigned by society to males. Despite this, Ludi still faces the issue of male dominance in the workplace when she is blackmailed after declining a dinner date with a fellow nurse. Fatigue and stress topped off by a night with a difficult patient lead to Ludi’s emotional breakdown,
crying and screaming, “God, I just want to get her this dress!” as she remembers her reason for working so hard: sending her niece, Fafa, money for a graduation dress. Ludi realizes finally putting herself first may be the best thing. – MR
Missing in Brooks County
May 6-12, 2021
Dirs. Lisa Molomot, Jeff Bemiss, USA, 2020, 80 min. Screening virtually
Up Front News Opinion
Eddie Canales, executive director of the South Texas Human Rights Center since 2013, has water stations on seven ranches in Texas and is helping the family of missing person Juan Salazar. On the opposite end, Michael Vickers, a veterinarian and ranch manager, says the borders should be closed due to terroristic elements. He states he will not allow water stations for migrants on his ranch, citing the water jugs are used to smuggle drugs. Whether it’s due to reasonable suspicion or prejudice, Vickers believes Canales is guilty of working with migrants to assist smuggling, and he’s waiting to catch him.
Culture Shot in the Triad
The end result is a heartbreaking, yet informative look at the humanitarians, activists, law enforcement agents and families that confront immigration and its challenges. And solutions are as hard to come by as water in the desert. – MR
ore than 20,000 people have died in Brooks County, Texas, because of a deterrence policy for migrants set by Border Patrol in 1994. That’s the stark reality upon which this tragic documentary about the unspoken experiences of Mexican immigrants to the United States builds its story. Over the course of about an hour and a half, the film interviews experts and activists who delve into what the National Institute of Justice has called a “silent mass disaster.” Dr. Kate Spradley, biological anthropologist at Texas State University, informs students that most migrants die venturing around the US Border Patrol Interior Checkpoint due to dehydration and exposure. In her lecture, she explains Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Safeguard and Operation Hold the Line were started to shut down borders that were easier to cross, funneling migrants into more dangerous crossing territory. “They knew there was gonna be a large death toll, but they assumed that that would prevent more migrants from coming,” Spradley says. “And it didn’t.” With her assistant Krista Latham, Spradley processes bodies found in mass graves in Brooks County. The family of Homero Roman, a man who has been missing for two years at that point, describes how he crossed the border into Brooks County and went missing afterwards. Same for Juan Salazar. The title of the film alludes to the many cases of migrants that have gone missing. Interspersed with the story of the Roman family, the film also highlights the clash between those who are working to help migrants and those who oppose their crossing.
Dirs. Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan, Canada, 2020, 105 min. Screening virtually.
Dir. Megan Q. Daniels, USA, 2020, 65 min. Screening virtually and at Marketplace Drive-in on Saturday, May 8 @ 8:30 p.m.
Shot in the Triad
May 6-12, 2021
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel
t’s not often that a documentary makes me cry. And even less often when it’s out of anger. But that’s the kind of film that The New Corporation is. The angry, passionate, what-thefuck-inducing kind. A sequel to The Corporation which came out in 2003, the updated version picks up right where the original left off by building on its premise that if corporations were human, they’d be diagnosed as psychopaths by the DSM-IV. Like many socialcommentary documentaries of today, it’s really not for the faint of heart because like Plato, it’s going to be hard to get back in the cave once you’ve seen it. But I would argue that because of that, its required viewing. The film starts off by explaining that psychopaths work by being charming and charismatic. They want to be your friend! And then they kill you and store you under their floorboard walls or whatever. When it comes to corporations, the directors argue that the same playbook applies. Since the making of their 2003 film, they say that corporations have begun using new tactics in which they are aligning themselves as friends and allies to consumers — touting “transparency” and “accountability” — all while making a profit off of doing the same corrupt business they’ve always been known for. Sure, big baddies like Amazon, Google, and JP Morgan Chase make their appearances, but the directors argue that the more insidious players come in the form of companies that are working to privatize formerly public utilities like water. And it doesn’t stop there. Slowly but surely, corporations will take anything they can and privatize it to make money. It’s already happening with education, healthcare and incarceration. “A market society means anything is up for sale,” the film claims. And that should scare us all. As it goes on, the film brings us up to date with the inclusion of the pandemic and the racial-justice protests from last year. The filmmakers argue that the crises seen around the world brought on by COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd are echoes of problems created by corporations. But don’t worry: Just when you start to lose hope, the film makes an important pivot. Hopeful beats and shots of Bernie Sanders and Greta Thunberg skirt across the screen as the film galvanizes viewers to take a stand by laying out their own playbook of resistance: winning local elections. By closely following the rise of Kshama Sawant, a socialist Seattle city councilmember who won her seat after protesting with Occupy Wallstreet and advocating for housing rights, the film makes the case that it’s not impossible to push back on the larger forces that control our society. And in fact, it’s necessary for our survival. – SM
awn Flynn’s office is unlike many pastors’ offices in North Carolina. She has crosses and religious symbolism around the room, true, but she also has a pride flag. Flynn is one of just 30 trans pastors in the US at the time of filming, and one of six in NC. Megan Q. Daniels’ Proper Pronouns is full of the intersections between trans identity and religion. Along with Flynn, Daniels follows Debora Hopkins, Mykal Shannon and Liam Hooper — all of whom are transgender pastors in NC working to shed light on trans communities within the church. “The core is awareness,” Shannon says in the film. “Without that, you don’t have an issue to fight because no one is aware of it.” Hopkins puts it more succinctly: “We belong, just like anyone else.” As the film progresses, the viewer delves deeper into Flynn and Hooper’s cases, and gets a glimpse into each of their pasts. Each gets a chance to speak about their difficulties transitioning, and the joys of it. Hooper says in a sermon that there is a duality to the transgender existence, that there is exploitation, but also resistance. The pastors also emphasize intersectionality throughout the film. Shannon, for example, expresses the importance of diversity even in such a small group. He calls for the church to be there for trans folks, just like the church showed up during the civil rights movement. Likewise, Hooper speaks about his financial struggles, how being a pastor and transgender has limited his options in terms of funding. In the film’s specificity, viewers empathize with Flynn, Hopkins, Shannon and Hooper, and come away with a better understanding of the systemic issues that exist for trans individuals, particularly for those who choose to remain in an institution that traditionally has not served them.
Up Front Opinion
a small diner might seem mundane, everyone who comes in has a story to tell,” Kopkowski told TCB. The film is fairly quiet and light on dialogue which often gets drowned out by the background noise of the kitchen or bussing of tables. But the scenes capture the nostalgic feeling of every good diner — from the solid curve of the mug handles to the smell of the cheap black coffee. “They’re an American constant,” Kopkowski says. “If it’s late and you need a good meal and good company, you can count on a diner being open.” – SM
s there anything more American than a diner? In “Regulars,” Director Emma Kopkowski captures slices of life in Jake’s Diner off of Wendover Avenue in Greensboro. IA group of college girls saving a couple of bucks while discussing which credit cards they have turns into a quieter scene with an old white guy with thick glasses and a cabbiestyle hat. “I’m like a part of the furniture,” he says. The location that Kopkowski chose is open 24 hours and allowed her to get a glimpse of the kinds of people that show up at 3 or 4 in the morning, she says. A group of Black women celebrate one of their birthdays. A man reminisces about the time he got kicked out of the Waffle House. Cut to a few hours later and the graveyard shift staff has been switched out for the livelier, daytime crew. Little feet stick out of one of the plastic booths while a father and son converse nearby. Jazz piano plays in the background as the day drags on and night descends once again. “I always found the communities that formed in these places so fascinating and found that even if
May 6-12, 2021
Dir. Emma Kopkowski, USA, 2020, 13 min. Screening virtually and at SECCA on Wednesday, May 12 @ 8:30 p.m.
Dir. Nick Brandestini, USA/Switzerland, 2020, 91 min. Screening virtually. Culture Shot in the Triad
his documentary opens at a small pond at Sapelo Island, Ga. with two young brothers — JerMarkest, 11, called Marcus, and Johnathan, 10 — fishing. They’re the grandsons turned adopted sons of historian Cornelia Walker Bailey, who worked to preserve the Geechee-Gullah culture of Sapelo until her death in 2017, and her husband Julius “Frank” Bailey. The feature film is a glance at Bailey’s work in Sapelo, such as maintaining the exclusively-Black space, and her attempts in raising her grandsons as they come of age. Bailey states despite her efforts to preserve the island, that has not stopped outsiders from purchas-
ing property in Sapelo. “There’s a lot of people waiting in the wings with their checkbook handy,” Bailey says. “But the culprits is my own people because they’re the ones that’s selling it to the other folks.” Halfway into the film, the focus shifts from the island’s history to Marcus’ temperamental adolescence when his behavioral issues result in him being sent to live with his mother on the mainland. Marcus, whose father is in his life but always away for work, acts out with no consistent paternal figure around. “I wish he would come pick me up sometimes on the weekends and we just hang out,” he says. But I don’t get to see him that much no more ‘cause he’s working all the time.” The film balances telling the story of Bailey’s attempts to keep the island unchanged with the younger generation’s personal lives. It is a snapshot of a suffering island, which appears to slowly be losing its culture as the elders pass and the youth leave for education, and the remaining residents try to save it. – MR
Heritage Place, Greensboro
May 6-12, 2021 Shot in the Triad
SHOT IN THE TRIAD
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by Matt Jones
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1 Gp. that pushed its 2021 deadline to May 4 Pot top 7 Moved around in Excel, maybe 13 Nine Lives spokesanimal Morris, e.g. 14 Neighbor of Miss. 15 Award recipient 16 “___ been thinking ...” 17 Metaphorical space that’s not too taxing 19 Ohio facility that had an elephant wing named for Marge Schott until 2020 21 Sluggish 22 Starting from 23 Forgo 26 “___ of Avalor” (Disney series) 28 Charging connection © 2021 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org) 31 Timeline span 32 Desiccant gel 34 Ivan the Terrible, for one 35 Rock group from Athens, Georgia 36 2021 Academy Award winner for Best Director 39 One of Snow White’s friends 42 “Or ___ what?” 43 Some flat-panels 47 Bar brew, briefly 48 The “S” in iOS (abbr.) 49 A bit unsettling 50 “Wynonna ___” (Syfy series) 52 Very small amount Answers from last issue 56 Soviet news agency 20 Jaded sort 57 It’s no diamond 24 Indignation 61 2016-18 Syfy horror anthology based on 25 “Archer” character with an extensive back tattoo Internet creepypastas 27 Muscle maladies 63 End of many URLs 29 Mort who hosted the first Grammy Awards ceremony 64 Uncooked, in meat dishes 30 “___ yourself” 65 Actress Gadot 33 Treaty partner 66 L.A.-to-Denver dir. 34 Bee follower? 67 Baby attire with snaps 37 Small ear bone 68 Late Pink Floyd member Barrett 38 Keatsian intro 69 Flat tire sound 39 Backgammon cube Down 40 Greek wedding cry 41 Under-the-hood maintenance, e.g. 1 Frozen spikes 44 Dreamlike states 2 Pasta that sits relatively flat on a plate 45 Hallucinations 3 Baseball Hall of Famer Casey 46 Certain bagels 4 Actress Mosley with the podcast 51 Fourth-down plays “Scam Goddess” 53 “Blizzard of ___” (Osbourne album) 5 Massey of “Love Happy” 54 ‘70s supermodel Cheryl 6 ___ with faint praise 55 Wide variety 7 “90210” actress Spelling 58 ___ B’rith (international Jewish organization) 8 Dreamworks movie released just before 59 “Able was ___ ...” “A Bug’s Life” 60 “I’ve got it down ___” 9 Knuckleheads 61 Company’s IT VIP 10 “Black Mirror” creator Charlie 62 Chinese dynasty for four centuries 11 Opposite of morn, to a poet 12 Pop singer Kiki 15 2007 film in Edgar Wright’s “Cornetto trilogy” 18 ___ Schwarz (toy retailer)
May 6-12, 2021
CROSSWORD ‘Seize Them!’—initially so.
RiverRun Film Fest is back in Winston-Salem. Plus news on the Marcus Smith lawsuit, anti-trans bills in Raleigh, crossword, columns and more...
Published on May 6, 2021
RiverRun Film Fest is back in Winston-Salem. Plus news on the Marcus Smith lawsuit, anti-trans bills in Raleigh, crossword, columns and more...