Running from April 16th to April 25th over two weekends, the 46th annual Nashville Film Festival will showcase 200 films that beat out a staggering 3,550 submissions which means that some notable documentary, film, short filmmakers were left in the cold while others will be screened in competitive and non-competitive categories. That’s pretty impressive, right? Participating in the Documentary Feature Competition, Rosenwald will be screened on April 19th at the Green Hills Cinema- Theater 16 at 7:00pm. Tickets will go on sale on April 6th at 10:00am.
Sharing an even deeper connection than NaFF, The Cairo School was built in near Nashville, Tennessee in 1922 under the funds of the Rosenwald Fund. Today, it looks almost exactly as it did when it was built, with a gable-end entrance, double-hung sash windows, weatherboard siding, and a stone foundation. In 1959, the school closed. Then, in 2008, the Tennessee Preservation Trust (TPT) was awarded a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Lowe’s to rehabilitate the Cairo Rosenwald School. The main reason the school was rehabilitated was that the TPT had seen how much the Cairo School had anchored its community, bringing together people of all ages for social and educational purposes. It is now one of only three Rosenwald Schools still standing in Sumner County, TN. The Cairo School appears in Kempner’s film Rosenwald, as it is near the Rosenwald filming location of Nashville, TN.
Key research was also done at the historically black college in Tennessee, Fisk University, which houses the archives of the Rosenwald Fund.
Some notable interviewees in the film are Julian Bond, John Lewis, Cokie Roberts, Ben Jealous, and A’Lelia Bundles.
To get more information about purchasing a ticket and other films that will be screened at the NaFF, click here.
The Ciesla Foundation is excited to announce that Aviva Kempner’s newest film, Rosenwald, formerly called The Rosenwald Schools, had a preview at the Washington Jewish Film Festival that she started twenty five years ago on February 25th at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, DC..
Before the screening, Carole Zawatsky, CEO of the DCJCC, and William “Bro” Adams, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Kempner delivered brief statements. Rosenwald was a huge success and received a standing ovation from the audience in the completely packed house.
In the audience was Max Cutler, who is 23 years old. He was very impressed with the Julius Rosenwald story and emailed his comments about the film.
“He perfectly embodies the Jewish ideals I was raised to believe are important. He didn’t just change lives. America as we know it today is a direct result of what he did because of the influence he had on blacks. Like the person who invented preservation techniques for blood marrow. Everyone should see it. What he did with his life is exactly how I would want to live my life. The fact that he did it with little recognition speaks more to the values he embodies and why he did it. Not for the recognition. He really just is what an ideal Jew should be. It re-affirms what I believe and gives me a goal to strive towards.”
After the screening, both Kempner and civil rights activist Julian Bond, an interviewee and a consultant to the film, gave brief statements. She explained how she had heard Bond speak about Julius Rosenwald at an event at the Hebrew Center at Martha’s Vineyard years ago. That talk inspired her to make a film about the philanthropist.
Bond told a story in which his father was once driving in the south when his car suddenly got stuck in a hole filled with mud. Julian’s father assumed that someone had put the mud there just so they could charge him money to be pulled out. Two black men came out from behind the bushes and noticed that he was wearing nice clothes and was driving a nice car. When they asked whom Julian’s father was working for, he replied, “I work for the Rosenwald Fund”. The men responded, “Oh you work for Captain Julius? There’ll be no charge”.
Overall, the premier was a huge success and The Ciesla Foundation wishes to thank all those who contributed to and supported the making of the film.
Final music for the film is still being composed and arrangements are being made to obtain the footage and stills for the film. You can go to http://www.rosenwaldschoolsfilm.org/donate.php.
Julius Rosenwald started making moves toward providing low-cost housing to African Americans in 1914. The African American population of Chicago was greatly growing during the Great Migration, which resulted in the 1919 race riot. This caused Rosenwald to “devote funding to offsetting the Black belt housing crisis,” resulting in the building of the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments (nicknamed “the Rosenwald”). The building was closed in 2000 due to a leaky gas pipe, and it’s physical condition has deteriorated ever since. However, nearly 15 years later, a permit has finally been received to renovate the apartments, and the development team is hoping that they will be completed by 2016. The new complex will be called the Rosenwald Courts, and the official groundbreaking ceremony occurred in February.
Read more about it here
, and don’t forget to check out The Rosenwald Schools
to hear more about the Michigan Boulevard Garden Apartments.
This has been a very busy week!
On Friday, Howard University and the Washington Jewish Film Festival hosted a screening of The Rosenwald Schools in the School of Communications. In the audience were some Howard faculty, donors, and even former students and family of former students who attended Rosenwald Schools in Maryland, Arkansas, and North Carolina.
Howard has a strong connection with Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald fund, serving as a great benefactor to great historical figures like Ernest Just and Charles R. Drew. It was given over $280,000, more financial assistance than any other black college had been given between 1917 and 1936.
As interviewees and other viewers watched the finished product, they laughed and learned even more than they though they would, commending director Aviva Kempner on a job well done. Following the screening, a panel discussion featuring Kempner, Political Science professor Jay Stewart, and biographer Stephanie Deutsch who answered several questions using knowledge from their area of expertise. The panel was insightful to both the audience members and the panelists as they all reviewed history from both research and first-hand experiences.
Several questions were posed, but the most common were how to preserve the history and legacy of Rosenwald Schools in addition to the importance of philanthropy. Siblings who are also Rosenwald alum, Newell Quinton and Alma Hackett, were featured in the film and attended a school in Eastern Shore, Maryland. Making a point to preserve the history of their school, they share their story with their local community and reach out to other students who were a part of the legacy.
Newell Quinton and Alma Hackett speaking during the panel discussion at Howard U
Ultimately, the pivotal role philanthropy and a desire for access to education stayed with each person who viewed the complete film. How rural communities managed to work with JR and local white officials to build a school was beyond amazing and more people need to be exposed to this part of American history.
Erica Marshall, Winter Intern