Sixth Annual African American Film Series goes virtual this year

FLINT, Michigan -- Communities First, Inc., and the Flint Institute of Arts are teaming up to host the sixth annual African American Film Series -- albeit under different circumstances this year.


The series kicks off virtually on December 17, with a screening of Willie, the story of Willie O’Ree, who was the first Black player in the National Hockey League. Communities First will also host a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on December 19 on their Facebook page and YouTube channel, moderated by Essence Wilson, chief strategy officer of Communities First. Other panelists include Ebyan Bihi, business and production manager of Willie, Laurence Mattieu-Leger, director of Willie, and Rico Phillips, director of cultural diversity and inclusion for the Ontario Hockey League and a retired city of Flint fireman.


Showings for Willie are available December 17-20. The movies are free, but online registration is required. Donations are also accepted through the website and a $25 party pack is available for purchase.


“We are excited to get together virtually for this important and engaging film series,” said Glenn Wilson, president and CEO of Communities First, in a news release. “We weren’t sure that we would be able to host the events this year due to the pandemic, but look forward to creating a unique and interesting experience for community members.”


The monthly series runs from December to March and is sponsored by the FIA, Mott Community College, the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Kettering University, HAP, and Genesee Health Systems. Communities First, Inc., is a Flint-based community development corporation that specializes in building affordable housing, spurring economic development, green programs, and quality of life programs.


Other films in the series include:

  • John Lewis: Good Trouble, January 21-14. Synopsis: Good Trouble surveys the life and hard-fought achievements of the legendary civil rights activist and Democratic Representative from Georgia. Combining rare archival footage and interviews—with congressional newcomers including Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Civil Rights Movement giants like James Clyburn and the late Elijah Cummings—the documentary looks back on its subject’s 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, healthcare reform and immigration. Communities First will also host a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on January 23 on their Facebook page and YouTube channel.
  • Fall Colors, February 18-21. Synopsis: Hunted by mysterious forces, a young woman who has supernatural abilities must go on the run when her powers are discovered. With nowhere else to go, she flees back to her family and the farmhouse she abandoned long ago. There, while being pursued by the local sheriff, she begins to mend the broken relationships with her mother and daughter and learns that the power she needed was inside her all along. Communities First will also host a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on February 20 on their Facebook page and YouTube channel.
  • The Banker, March 18-21. Synopsis: Inspired by true events, “The Banker” centers on revolutionary businessmen Bernard Garrett and Joe Morris, who devise an audacious and risky plan to take on the racially oppressive establishment of the 1960s by helping other African Americans pursue the American dream. Communities First will also host a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on March 20 on their Facebook page and YouTube channel.
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