Ironton native brings film to region

Published 1:35 am Sunday, January 29, 2017

Free screening Feb. 4 at Cinemark in Ashland

ASHLAND — An acclaimed documentary which examines race in America, from the civil rights era to the Black Lives Matter movement, will be playing in the Tri-State region on Saturday.
“I am not Your Negro,” by director Raoul Peck, premiered in 2016. It is based on the writings of the late writer and social critic James Baldwin, who, in 1979, began writing a book, “Remember This House,” a personal account of the lives and his friendship with three figures of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evars, all of whom were assassinated in the 1960s.
When Baldwin died in 1987, the manuscript was unfinished. The filmmakers have taken his words and, through use of archival footage, connected the past of the civil rights movement with the present.
The film will play at 8 p.m. on Saturday at the Cinemark Theater in Ashland, as the result of efforts by an Ironton native.
Cory Smith, a 1997 graduate of Ironton High School, who now works as a producer in Hollywood, said he had called every theater in the Tri-State to see if it was playing near his hometown.
When he could not find a theater, he decided to stage a showing, putting up the funds to rent out the Cinemark for a night and offer the film to the public, with no cost of admission.
“It’s important, especially during these times to hear the message,” he said. “It’s a movie about civil rights and bringing people together.”
Smith, who said he personally has no ties to the film, said it is hard in certain areas to see documentaries when they are released and wanted the Tri-State to have the opportunity.
“I want to encourage movie theaters in the area to start carrying movies like this. I wanted to bring it to the community I grew up in,” he said. “It’s educational and informative. There were no plans for it to air back home, and I wanted to give people the chance to see it.”
He said the message of the film is universally important.
“It’s not just a ‘black film,’” he said. It’s an American film and it’s important for all of us. ”
“I’m Not Your Negro,” which is narrated by actor Samuel L. Jackson, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award. With a 95 percent score on film critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it has been acclaimed, winning Best Documentary at the 52nd Chicago International Film Festival, and Best Documentary Film from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards. It is nominated for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, set for February.

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