It is a fact that hardship hits black and brown communities the most in these United States of America, and because of this generational curse certain luxuries such as art education are not priorities for some of these families. However, knowing the effect that art can have on the imaginative child’s brain, it opens up so many opportunities and creates a new outlook on life as this child grows despite the environment they grow up in. However community staples such as Edward White, who devoted his life to leading the River City Drum Corp (RCDC), make a difference in the life of hundreds of these children in the past 30 years. Anne Flatté and Miami Native Marlon Johnson, directors of the movie River City Drumbeat capture the integral moments of his journey as he not only grooms his replacement but also impacts the next generation of future leaders in the process.
We had the privilege of catching up with Award Winning Film Director Marlon Johnson as he expresses his thoughts toward launching the movie right here in Miami during Miami Film Festival.
Marlon was born and raised in Liberty City, Florida where he participated in a similar program for children at risk. his upbringing sparked his love for the arts and propelled his desire to immerse himself in the film industry. His first documentary entitled “Deep City” was filmed here in Liberty City “It was about the 1960s soul music scene in Miami and it featured folks who grew up in Liberty City and created art and music in that area. There’s no shortage of material that I’ve made in my career that has not featured Miami I’m still a work in progress and there’s so many more stories to tell and I’ve been solicited to tell more stories about the area. So please stay tuned because that really means the area is a first love of mine. It’s just a matter of where the opportunity comes.” – he states .
For any artist, presenting their art can rattle the nerves a bit. Though he may have done this a thousand times, we’ve asked Marlon what kind of impact does he hope that the documentary will have on its viewers?
“Well, so it’s interesting you asked that. I think that for me, this film, our film is not one that is of someone famous. It is not one that is of a particular historical figure or a historical event. It’s about ordinary people doing extraordinary work in their own community. I hope that when people, when folks see this film, that they can see a little bit of Edward in themselves through the people on screen, and that they can have a transformative experience and be inspired to do good or continue to do good work in the immediate community around them. We live in a world mad still with a lot of challenges and a lot of negativity that is out there. Being able to put good energy out into the world is where I hope people walk away from with this film.” he answers
We salute those leaders like Edward White who despite the adversities continue to believe in their community as they keep injecting positivity and empowerment in the generations to follow. Without giving away the movie, Edward faces a tragedy as he loses his granddaughter to the very streets he was trying to shelter her from so we’ve asked
Have you ever had to witness something like that in your lifetime?
“Yeah, I mean, growing up where I grew up and just being in Miami in general, I’ve had best friends who met that same fate in high school and friends who did not make it. So when we talk about Mr. White’s experience with his granddaughter and when we talk about Albert’s experience and the friends that he had that did not make it, a lot of those stories parallel my own. But again, part of the theme of the film is they’re the life saving, the life changing aspect of the art and that being really a driving force to redeem and to shape lives in a positive way. And that’s what saved me.”
As excited as we are for the viewing on March 7th, 2020 we’ve learned an historical moment from Marlon that you wouldn’t know about the city of Louisville Kentucky:
There’s different audiences that will experience the film in various ways. We premiered in New York this film is about a Southern Midwest thing depending on who you ask and Louisville, Kentucky is really kind of a crossroads of America. It’s the gateway to the South, the gateway to the Midwest. It is the home of Muhammad Ali and also Mitch McConnell. So you have that spectrum that I think people aren’t necessarily aware of and how a place like Louisville can produce two completely opposite type of individuals. And that was eye opening for me. I did not know that, I did not know it going into the film. I think that audiences will also be surprised by that fact. There are two different Louisvilles. Yeah, there are two different Louisville and we try and explore both sides. So that to me and my creative partner, and that was a very, very eye opening and very interesting.
And of course we would never leave you our dear readers without a positive message from our guest. Marlon lastly shares with us:
I would say that this is probably one of the biggest takeaways besides the lifesaving properties of being exposed to art, is I’ve always imagined this film is about a particular area, but it really is about America at large. I would imagine, I’ll rephrase it slightly. Imagine if all of the resources that we put into sports, we put into the art and we put into sciences in these underserved neighborhoods of black and brown kids. Yes. How much that would transform the country. […] It opens up a whole new world that so many kids who have been told no or have been told a very narrow definition of what their narrative should be.
The 37th Edition of MDC’S Miami Film Festival
Presents the Florida Premiere of
RIVER CITY DRUMBEAT
An Epic Story of Music, Love and Legacies
Saturday, March 7, 3:45pm, at MDC’S Tower Theater
River City Drumbeat follows the creative community of African-American mentors, parents, and youth making their way in the world using cultural and artistic resources in an environment where systemic forces raise barriers to the fulfillment of their dreams. This multigenerational story of music, love, and legacies set against the backdrop of the American South is both unblinking and inspiring.
We look forward to the screening of the film on March 7th and wish deserving success to all its participants.