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TRANSCENDENCE, DISABILITY AND HOPE ARE THE THEMES OF THE MOVIES PRODUCED BY FILMS WITH A PURPOSE
By Special to the Sentinel
Published September 9, 2021

‘FERGUSON RISES,’ ‘I’M NOT SPECIAL’ AND ‘PASSAGE’ SCREENING SEPTEMBER 17TH THRU 23RD

This September, Films With A Purpose (FWAP), an initiative of Sandra J. Evers-Manly, president and founder of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC), is on a mission, a campaign to encourage the public to attend and support the screenings of three formidable, impactful and diverse films by emerging independent filmmakers. “Ferguson Rises,” “I’m Not Special,” and “Passage” will screen daily at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401, beginning Friday, September 17, to Thursday, September 23, 2021. Log on to purchase tickets online at https://www.laemmle.com/theater/monica-film-center.

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About the Films and Filmmakers

“FERGUSON RISES” (Documentary Feature) Mobolaji Olambiwonnu, Director/Producer (2021 Winner Tribeca Film Festival Online Documentary) – Before the explosive global uprising condemning the murder of George Floyd, there was a small town in Missouri that erupted in protest after August 9, 2014, killing
of unarmed Black teen Michael Brown Jr. by a White police officer. “FERGUSON RISES” is a story about tragedy, transcendence, and hope. It is the story of a father’s grief and a small town that propelled the Black Lives Matter movement to international prominence and inspired a new global civil rights movement. To
understand this present moment, and we must understand what happened in Ferguson. “Ferguson Rises” is
a powerful reminder that, while specifics may differ, the fight for human rights is universal.

Mobolaji Olambiwonnu is a graduate of UCLA and AFI. He is the recipient of the Directors Guild of America Student Filmmaker Award. In addition, Olambiwonnu screened his film as part of the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers Showcase at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. Furthermore, he won 2 Hermes Awards for six commercials he directed for the Los Angeles Metro’s new 1.8 billion dollar rail line to the LAX airport. Besides freelance film work, as producer, cameraman, and director for companies and organizations such as Lions Gate, Paramount, Discovery, and HBO. Mobolaji has also worked in education, conflict resolution, and community organizing. His community-based experience is not only the conscience behind his work but the driving force behind his filmmaking choices. Olambiwonnu’s goal is to use cinema as a tool to share diverse cultural and political experiences, critique the superficial conditions that divide us, and accentuate the merits of shedding our prejudices. “Ferguson Rises” is Mobolaji’s first feature film.

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“I’M NOT SPECIAL” (Short film) Larry Ulrich, Writer/Director – An 11-year-old with Down Syndrome has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate as an athlete in the Special Games. As his drug-dependent father battles through his struggle, he threatens to jeopardize and derail more than just his son’s athletic future. Since birth, the film’s star is Julius Jordan, a determined young man with hypotonia (low muscle tone) from Down Syndrome who grew strong quickly. He became very active as a little boy who by age 5 was capable of completing ten sit-ups, with some support, on a balance ball, loved rock climbing, and his physical therapy sessions. Julius is an actor who continues to be active, playing with his dog, video games, and all sorts of sports such as soccer, basketball, swimming, surfing, and his new favorite football.

Larry Ulrich is a fast-rising award-winning American actor, director, producer, screenwriter, and CEO of Ulrich Entertainment Group (UEG). Proactive and passionate about making movies that make a difference, Ulrich is a creative, hardworking, ambitious filmmaker full of great purpose-inspired stories. His poignant short films have been applauded by audiences and critics alike for centering on often overlooked societal themes and characters, with a keen focus on inclusion, tolerance, reversing stereotypes, and promoting deeper understanding. He is committed to “being the change” via his purpose-driven touching films. Larry holds a Master of Arts degree in Social Entrepreneurship & Change from Pepperdine University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs from Huston-Tillotson University, an HBCU in Austin, Texas.

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“PASSAGE” (Short film) David Massey, Writer/Director – This is a story that hasn’t been told before and looks at Africa through a different lens. Set in 1600 West Africa, “PASSAGE” takes you on a journey through the eyes of Gamba, the village leader. It begins one morning as everyone goes about their daily tasks. On one particular day, however, Gamba faces a new challenge that could endanger the existence of the entire village community. Understanding the needs of his people, everyone, especially his family, looks to him for survival.

David Massey is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, “Last Breeze of Summer,” and the first African-American nominated in the Live-Action Short Film category. In addition, Massey has been the recipient of several prestigious awards. The Martin Ritt Scholarship, Eastman Kodak Second Century Honoree, inductee at The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, The National Education Association for the “Advancement of Learning through Broadcasting,” the 2011 PBS Innovated Teacher Award, the National Black Programming Consortium “Prized Pieces,” the Heartland Film Festival’s Crystal Heart and he is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications & Education from Ohio Dominican College and a Master of Fine Arts degree in advanced film & television studies from the American Film Institute.

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FWAP recognizes that many independent films never get the opportunity to be viewed beyond the festival circuit for many reasons. Primarily due to the costs associated with booking a theater. Notably, BHERC has supported and funded filmmakers for over thirty years. However, FWAP production is a relatively new venture. But very necessary in the effort to complete and fully sustain a film. With funding by ardent philanthropist and the fund founder Evers-Manly, FWAP has funded in whole or part 12 films in just a few short years. “By producing films that tell the stories that matter, we help artists pursue their goals and share their vision. FWAP partners with filmmakers on their journey to create powerful films; at the same time, we provide our filmmakers with tools they need to ensure their path to a promising future,” states Evers-Manly.

With her leadership, FWAP takes another step forward by promoting these three outstanding films with unique and compelling storylines not told to audiences in Southern California. FWAP fully endorses and solicits the public to support these talented independent filmmakers. Each of the films is dynamic and stirring. One of the films is a real-life story, a documentary that launched a global movement. Another film tackles a historical fact rarely known, while another puts the audience face-to-face with a disabled child attempting to thrive with drug-dependent parents. The movies are transcendent, and courageous full of hope, inspiration, and a narrative about a people’s history not well known.

This event takes place live Friday, September 17 thru Thursday, September 23, 2021. at the Laemmle Monica Film Center 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Purchase tickets online at https://www.laemmle.com/theater/monica-film-center. Tickets are:
• Matinee: $11.00 (General) І $6.00 (Senior 62 & Over)
• Evening: $14.00 (General) І $11.00 (Child under 11/Senior 62 & Over)

Screening times are:
• Ferguson Rises – 1:30 PM, 3:40 PM, 7:40 PM
• I’m Not Special – 1:00 PM & 6:00 PM
• Passage – 1:00 PM & 6:00 PM

Note: (The 6:00 pm showtime offers Passage & I’m Not Special as a joint showing.)

FWAP urges you to support these films and talented filmmakers and get your tickets TODAY! Each of these outstanding films will inspire, educate and entertain the audience and deserves the opportunity to be screened. For more information about FWAP, log on to www.filmswithapurpose.net. For more information about the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center (BHERC), log on to www.bherc.org

Categories: Entertainment | Movies
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