Theta Chapter Hosts Black Southern Filmmakers
DURHAM-Theta Chapter of Gamma Xi Phi, the fraternity for artists, presented a virtual panel discussion featuring three North Carolina-based filmmakers this week. The event highlighted panelists Leslie Cunningham, Rukiya Shanteel, and Kimberly Knight, who discussed both the art and the craft of their work. The artists’ projects involved a traveling revue during the Jim Crow era, Afro-Indigenous residents of North Carolina, and the fight for justice through video and song.
“The opportunity to bring these filmmakers together to discuss their work is what Gamma Xi Phi is about: raising awareness of the depth of artistry that exists in our community,” said La Toya Hankins, program director for Theta Chapter. “The artists are turning the lenses of their lives around and elevating those who interact with them in a way that promotes Gamma Xi Phi’s mission of honoring the achievements of artists.”
Cunningham is a self-described “raconteur with a journalistic background.” She is the owner of TRIBES Entertainment, LLC, a boutique digital media company known for creating daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities. The Los Angeles, California native and current Durham, North Carolina resident is currently working on a documentary film series titled Jig Show: Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, which honors her grandfather’s popular traveling revue. She is a member of Film Fatales and Brown Girls Doc Mafia. Cunningham is a graduate of the documentary arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham.
Shanteel is a Greensboro, NC based filmmaker and artist that describes her work as being geared toward creating complex narratives that drive introspection and soulful entertainment. Her impromptu short film How Much Longer was showcased at the Gender Reel Film Festival in 2015. Shanteel won best in genre in 2018 and 2019 C47 Film Festival in Carrboro. She had her first solo art exhibition entitled Soul Sessions and is currently filming her next feature film.
Knight, a Wilson, NC native and Raleigh, NC resident, maintains a lifestyle blog called The Lux Blog and is a contributing writer for Sheen and Essence magazines. She is the committee chair of the Advisory Council for the first Black Indians NC Powwow for the State of North Carolina scheduled for September 2021. She is also serving as the co-director and co-producer of a film entitled Duality: A Collection of Afro-Indigenous Perspectives. Knight is also a member of Gamma Xi Phi.
The event was moderated by GXP member Thomas De Frantz. Remarks were provided by National President Rashid Darden.
Gamma Xi Phi was founded on October 7, 2010, by Ramapo College men and women who were interested in creating strong bonds between students pursuing artistic careers. The purpose of the fraternity is to honor the achievements of artists through fellowship, philanthropy, social justice, and service. Theta Chapter was chartered on October 11, 2020, to serve the Research Triangle.
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