GREATER CLEVELAND URBAN FILM FESTIVAL

The Nightlight is hosting a selection of GCUFF7 films from September 24th through the 27th.


The mission of the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival is to celebrate African American cinema and the African cultural Diaspora and to showcase a diverse collection of films – from emerging and established filmmakers. This is accomplished by providing film artists a forum for their work to be viewed, while simultaneously serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the critical issues of our times.

We are bridging the gap between Cleveland and Akron. The Nightlight and GCUFF are collaborating to give a chance for broader audiences to experience the essential upcoming voices in film and media.

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 24TH

4:45PM

Alaska Is A Drag

ALASKA IS A DRAG is a Fish out of water story – literally. Our hero Leo is an aspiring superstar (Martin L. Washington Jr.) stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. Leo sees disco balls in the scales of the fish he slices. Everyone who slices fish all day, daydreams – Leo’s are just more glamtastic.

Most of the time, Leo and his twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington) are left to fend for themselves. To escape the monotony of fist fights and fish guts, they create their own magic, the Northern Lights follow them as they vogue down a woodsy path.

They hang out at the one gay bar in a hundred miles, owned by their surly surrogate mom – Jan (Margaret Cho).

Their real mom (Nia Peeples) left years ago and their dad George (Kevin Daniels) preaches on the side of the road. After years of getting beat up by his former best friend, Kyle (Christopher O’Shea), Leo has learned to fight back – his skills catch the eye of his cannery boss, an amateur boxer (Jason Scott Lee) who offers to train him to be a fighter.

And when the new kid in town, Declan (Matt Dallas), wants to be his sparring partner – Leo’s worlds begin to collide, Tristen enters Leo in a drag competition – he’s never performed for anyone but her – the drag audition falls on the same day as the qualifying round for boxing and Leo has to face the real reason he’s afraid to leave Alaska.

Alaska Is A Drag

ALASKA IS A DRAG is a Fish out of water story – literally. Our hero Leo is an aspiring superstar (Martin L. Washington Jr.) stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. Leo sees disco balls in the scales of the fish he slices. Everyone who slices fish all day, daydreams – Leo’s are just more glamtastic.

Most of the time, Leo and his twin sister Tristen (Maya Washington) are left to fend for themselves. To escape the monotony of fist fights and fish guts, they create their own magic, the Northern Lights follow them as they vogue down a woodsy path.

They hang out at the one gay bar in a hundred miles, owned by their surly surrogate mom – Jan (Margaret Cho).

Their real mom (Nia Peeples) left years ago and their dad George (Kevin Daniels) preaches on the side of the road. After years of getting beat up by his former best friend, Kyle (Christopher O’Shea), Leo has learned to fight back – his skills catch the eye of his cannery boss, an amateur boxer (Jason Scott Lee) who offers to train him to be a fighter.

And when the new kid in town, Declan (Matt Dallas), wants to be his sparring partner – Leo’s worlds begin to collide, Tristen enters Leo in a drag competition – he’s never performed for anyone but her – the drag audition falls on the same day as the qualifying round for boxing and Leo has to face the real reason he’s afraid to leave Alaska.

MORE / TRAILER

6:45 PM

Father's Kingdom

Father Divine was born in poverty, the son of emancipated slaves. At his peak, he was one of America’s most controversial religious leaders. He preached that he himself was an incarnation of God, and that by following his rules of purity and celibacy, you can live forever in “heaven on earth.” His movement, dedicated to integration and communal living, was an innovator in desegregating neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and the ballot box in the 1930’s and 40’s, through his radical program of empowerment. He commanded hundreds of properties and businesses, all funded by the work of his thousands of followers. But scandal, suspicion, and racism lead to clashes with the law. Though he was once a celebrity, and was decades ahead of his time fighting for civil rights, he has largely been written out of history because of the audacity of his religious claims, and doubt about his motives.

Today, Father’s few remaining followers live as a communal family on a magnificent estate outside Philadelphia. As time and mortality confront the followers, they struggle to preserve Father’s legacy. Through unprecedented access to this unique and reclusive community, the film explores the line between faith and fanaticism, between a religion and a cult. Father’s revolutionary ideas on race and identity still resonate today.

Father's Kingdom

Father Divine was born in poverty, the son of emancipated slaves. At his peak, he was one of America’s most controversial religious leaders. He preached that he himself was an incarnation of God, and that by following his rules of purity and celibacy, you can live forever in “heaven on earth.” His movement, dedicated to integration and communal living, was an innovator in desegregating neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and the ballot box in the 1930’s and 40’s, through his radical program of empowerment. He commanded hundreds of properties and businesses, all funded by the work of his thousands of followers. But scandal, suspicion, and racism lead to clashes with the law. Though he was once a celebrity, and was decades ahead of his time fighting for civil rights, he has largely been written out of history because of the audacity of his religious claims, and doubt about his motives.

Today, Father’s few remaining followers live as a communal family on a magnificent estate outside Philadelphia. As time and mortality confront the followers, they struggle to preserve Father’s legacy. Through unprecedented access to this unique and reclusive community, the film explores the line between faith and fanaticism, between a religion and a cult. Father’s revolutionary ideas on race and identity still resonate today.

MORE / TRAILER

8:45 PM

Call Me Thief

Daryne Joshua ’s debut film is a portrait of life on the mean streets of Cape Town ’s lawless Cape Flats in the 1960 ’s and is as much a paean to the human need for stories – and storytellers –as it is a realistic look at youthful gang behavior. Barely into their teens, Abraham (Austin Rose) and his three friends form a gang, more out of self-preservation than malice. As they grow up, Abraham (now played by the intense Dann-Jaques Mouton) and his gang evolve into petty thieves, and soon he is in prison. It is there that his gift for telling stories protects him from the worst that prison life has to offer. Once he’s out, he hopes to unite with his childhood sweetheart and to get these stories down on paper – if, that is, his gang friends and society allows him a chance...

Call Me Thief

Daryne Joshua ’s debut film is a portrait of life on the mean streets of Cape Town ’s lawless Cape Flats in the 1960 ’s and is as much a paean to the human need for stories – and storytellers –as it is a realistic look at youthful gang behavior. Barely into their teens, Abraham (Austin Rose) and his three friends form a gang, more out of self-preservation than malice. As they grow up, Abraham (now played by the intense Dann-Jaques Mouton) and his gang evolve into petty thieves, and soon he is in prison. It is there that his gift for telling stories protects him from the worst that prison life has to offer. Once he’s out, he hopes to unite with his childhood sweetheart and to get these stories down on paper – if, that is, his gang friends and society allows him a chance...

MORE / TRAILER

TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25TH 

4:45 PM

Boost

Hakeem is the teenage son of east African immigrant parents living in Montreal’s tough Parc-Ex neighborhood. Along with his best friend Anthony ‘A-Mac’ McDonald, the two work at Hakeem’s uncle’s car wash ’spotting’ luxury sports cars for a local crime syndicate to make extra money. A-Mac eventually persuades Hakeem to boost a car on their own leading to a windfall of cash that has dire consequences down the road - forcing Hakeem to make a life-altering decision and define the type of man he will become.

Boost

Hakeem is the teenage son of east African immigrant parents living in Montreal’s tough Parc-Ex neighborhood. Along with his best friend Anthony ‘A-Mac’ McDonald, the two work at Hakeem’s uncle’s car wash ’spotting’ luxury sports cars for a local crime syndicate to make extra money. A-Mac eventually persuades Hakeem to boost a car on their own leading to a windfall of cash that has dire consequences down the road - forcing Hakeem to make a life-altering decision and define the type of man he will become.

MORE / TRAILER

6:45 PM

How Jack Became Black

HOW JACK BECAME BLACK is the first documentary feature from Man of Steele Productions whose previous productions include narrative films as well as a pilot for MTV Networks.
It took five years, over 200 interviews, several trips across the United States, and one trip abroad to complete principal photography. The making of this documentary would not have been possible without the generous support of The Moving Picture Institute. The idea for HOW JACK BECAME BLACK was born out of a situation that Director Eli Steele found himself in. When he went to enroll his son, Jack, at his local school he was stunned to learn that he had to pick a primary race. Jack descends from those who were enslaved in America, survived the Holocaust, and immigrated from Mexico. How could Eli, himself a multiracial, choose only one race for Jack? Worse, Eli was told that he could not enroll Jack to begin his elementary school education unless a race box was checked. It was out of this situation that Eli took a journey across America to find out why race had become more important than the individual. The end result is a ground-breaking and unflinching look at race in America from the never-seen-before perspective of a multiracial.

How Jack Became Black

HOW JACK BECAME BLACK is the first documentary feature from Man of Steele Productions whose previous productions include narrative films as well as a pilot for MTV Networks.
It took five years, over 200 interviews, several trips across the United States, and one trip abroad to complete principal photography. The making of this documentary would not have been possible without the generous support of The Moving Picture Institute. The idea for HOW JACK BECAME BLACK was born out of a situation that Director Eli Steele found himself in. When he went to enroll his son, Jack, at his local school he was stunned to learn that he had to pick a primary race. Jack descends from those who were enslaved in America, survived the Holocaust, and immigrated from Mexico. How could Eli, himself a multiracial, choose only one race for Jack? Worse, Eli was told that he could not enroll Jack to begin his elementary school education unless a race box was checked. It was out of this situation that Eli took a journey across America to find out why race had become more important than the individual. The end result is a ground-breaking and unflinching look at race in America from the never-seen-before perspective of a multiracial.

MORE / TRAILER

8:45 PM

Running After

Paulo Gale is a black Brazilian man, a typical “day-by-day survivor”, always doing his best to bring some happiness in his life, and by happiness he means money. When finding himself a dead end, he discovers the opportunity to become a football manager by leading some boy from the neighborhood to becoming the new Neymar of international soccer. Going through the suburbs of Rio, he finds Glanderson, a young boy with an enormous talent for soccer given the absence of two toes in his right foot. With good humor, high hopes, and a lot of missteps the quixotic duo tries their best to get to their dream to come true.

Running After

Paulo Gale is a black Brazilian man, a typical “day-by-day survivor”, always doing his best to bring some happiness in his life, and by happiness he means money. When finding himself a dead end, he discovers the opportunity to become a football manager by leading some boy from the neighborhood to becoming the new Neymar of international soccer. Going through the suburbs of Rio, he finds Glanderson, a young boy with an enormous talent for soccer given the absence of two toes in his right foot. With good humor, high hopes, and a lot of missteps the quixotic duo tries their best to get to their dream to come true.

MORE / TRAILER

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 26TH

4:45 PM

Animator

Commercial artist Neal Stewart takes an animation class with a mysterious professor that connects him to the ancient Griots of West Africa and the power to draw the future. When his girlfriend commits suicide, he learns he can erase the past with chilling consequences.

Animator

Commercial artist Neal Stewart takes an animation class with a mysterious professor that connects him to the ancient Griots of West Africa and the power to draw the future. When his girlfriend commits suicide, he learns he can erase the past with chilling consequences.

MORE / TRAILER

6:45 PM

Liyana

A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character's journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

Liyana

A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character's journey is interwoven with poetic and observational documentary scenes to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

MORE / TRAILER

8:45 PM

Before The Vows

Meet Afua a modern day Ghanaian woman with plans to marry her fiancé Nii. The only problem is, Afua is not sure she believes in marriage. Her divorced parents, an unbearable stepmother, and Nii’s bickering married parents, cause Afua to doubt the very thing planned for just a few weeks away: her wedding. After watching Afua prance around town with her fiancé – selecting a cake, finalizing decorations and altering her dress – we then see her start questioning what makes a marriage truly work. And with nostalgic feelings for a former crush, Afua devises an unconventional plan to ensure that she and Nii embark on a long and happy marriage. However, the very plan devised to help them is the same plan that may harm them – even before their intended “I do’s.”

Before The Vows

Meet Afua a modern day Ghanaian woman with plans to marry her fiancé Nii. The only problem is, Afua is not sure she believes in marriage. Her divorced parents, an unbearable stepmother, and Nii’s bickering married parents, cause Afua to doubt the very thing planned for just a few weeks away: her wedding. After watching Afua prance around town with her fiancé – selecting a cake, finalizing decorations and altering her dress – we then see her start questioning what makes a marriage truly work. And with nostalgic feelings for a former crush, Afua devises an unconventional plan to ensure that she and Nii embark on a long and happy marriage. However, the very plan devised to help them is the same plan that may harm them – even before their intended “I do’s.”

MORE / TRAILER

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH

5:15 PM

The Foreigner's Home

The Foreigner’s Home is a feature-length documentary film that explores the vision and work of Toni Morrison through “The Foreigner’s Home,” the 2006 exhibition she guest-curated at the Louvre. Morrison invited renowned artists whose work also deals with the experience of cultural and social displacement to join her in a public conversation that she had been pursuing for years through her own research and writing and in her teaching at Princeton University. The film expands that conversation, combining exclusive and unreleased footage of the Nobel Laureate in dialogue with artists—first, in Paris in 2006 and then, in 2015, at her home in New York state—with extensive archival film footage, music, and still images to present a series of candid and incisive exchanges about race, identity, “foreignness,” and art’s redemptive power.

The Foreigner's Home

The Foreigner’s Home is a feature-length documentary film that explores the vision and work of Toni Morrison through “The Foreigner’s Home,” the 2006 exhibition she guest-curated at the Louvre. Morrison invited renowned artists whose work also deals with the experience of cultural and social displacement to join her in a public conversation that she had been pursuing for years through her own research and writing and in her teaching at Princeton University. The film expands that conversation, combining exclusive and unreleased footage of the Nobel Laureate in dialogue with artists—first, in Paris in 2006 and then, in 2015, at her home in New York state—with extensive archival film footage, music, and still images to present a series of candid and incisive exchanges about race, identity, “foreignness,” and art’s redemptive power.

MORE / TRAILER

6:45 PM

Chasing the Blues

Two rival record collectors attempt to con an old lady out of a rare, but cursed, 1930s Blues record. When a series of unfortunate circumstances lands them in jail, the feud festers for over twenty years until they are released from prison and get a second chance at snagging the vinyl, this time from a more formidable foe.

Chasing the Blues

Two rival record collectors attempt to con an old lady out of a rare, but cursed, 1930s Blues record. When a series of unfortunate circumstances lands them in jail, the feud festers for over twenty years until they are released from prison and get a second chance at snagging the vinyl, this time from a more formidable foe.

MORE / TRAILER

What Death Leaves Behind

After a kidney transplant, Jake Warren experiences reoccurring nightmares he believes to be visions of his donor's violent murder, sending him on a dark path of deranged vengeance, leading to an unbearable truth.

What Death Leaves Behind

After a kidney transplant, Jake Warren experiences reoccurring nightmares he believes to be visions of his donor's violent murder, sending him on a dark path of deranged vengeance, leading to an unbearable truth.

MORE / TRAILER