Entertaining Artistic Films That Embrace Humanity
HARLEM IN MONTMARTRE, A PARIS JAZZ STORY
Dante James recently completed writing and directing, Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story, which tells the story of the jazz age in Paris between the First and Second World Wars, and explores a fascinating yet often neglected era of African-American cultural history.
Beloved American jazz singer and bandleader Cab Calloway once said, You hear about the Duke Ellington's, the Jimmy Lunceford's, the Fletcher Henderson's, but people sometimes forget that jazz was not only built in the minds of the great ones, but on the backs of the ordinary ones. While far from ordinary, Harlem in Montmartre tells the story of the long-forgotten extraordinary ones, who left America to create the jazz age in Paris between the First and Second World Wars. After peace was signed at Versailles, many black Americans remained in Europe rather than return to the brutal segregation and racism of America. Over the next two decades, they formed an expatriate community of musicians, entertainers and entrepreneurs, primarily congregating in Paris hilly Montmartre neighborhood. Some achieved enduring fame, while others faded into history.
Inspired by the book Harlem in Montmartre: a Paris Jazz Story (University of California Press) by historian William A. Shack and utilizing rare archival material from both France and America, this remarkable performance- driven documentary features the stories and music of such key figures as James Reese Europe, Josephine Baker, Sidney Bechet, Bricktop, Eugene Bullard, Django Reinhardt and more. The film is a colorful, musical, poignant look at the contributions of a select group of black Americans, without whom the collective voice of jazz music around the world would sound entirely different.
Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story was selected to screen at the prestigious FIPA International Film Festival in Biarritz, France. The film was recently awarded best documentary at the Pan African International Film Festival and it will screen at the Paris, France Noire/Black France” Film Festival May 21- 23, 2010.