City of the Arts Project July 22-28th in FTL Celebrates Culture and Community through an Inspiring Film Series

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City of the Arts ProjectPhoto byGrace Arts FL
City of the Arts ProjectPhoto byGrace Arts FL

Fort Lauderdale Florida — Grace Arts Florida, in collaboration with local artists and cultural contributors from several states and countries, is proud to present a free captivating film series titled “Through a Flowering Place: Women of the Saltwater Railroad.” This series of short films and cultural events is part of a year long ‘City of the Arts’ initiative of cultural events featuring multiple artistic disciplines, free in several public places; and made possible through a grant from the Community Foundation of Broward.

CotA kicks off in the summer 2023 with the ‘Through a Flowering Place’ film series commemorating journeys to freedom undertaken by six inspiring women who lived and traveled Florida’s Underground Railroad. The screenings, artist discussions, exhibits and dance performances take place at various locations in Broward County in July. CotA continues in the fall and winter with a theater festival on the beach, art exhibits on the water and more community cultural conversations.Historians based in the Bahamas, Mexico, Tennessee and Florida were commissioned or contributed to the detailed recounting of female freedom seekers in each of the five captivating films narrated in a different language including Muscogee (ancient Creek and Seminole dialects), French-based Creole, Gullah, and English.

“Many thanks to Clare Vickery and her team for the informative and emotionally moving documentaries about these strong and resilient women. Because of these women, Po monken heyvt’os! We are still here!” Chief Dan Helms.

Featured Films:

1. “Romana Biassou: Journey of Strength” — Narrated by local Haitian artist and teacher, Emonde Prosper, in Creole with English titles. The film chronicles the life of Romana Jacobo, wife of Haitian Revolution architect, Jorge, who was forced to leave her homeland for the Spanish colony of St. Augustine and ultimately sailed to Cuba.

2. “Anna Kingsley: From Bondage to Resilience” — Narrated by African American actor Jessica Conway in English. This film depicts the incredible journey of Anna Kingsley, an African woman who married her slaveholder and eventually found freedom in Haiti before returning to Florida to face significant challenges.

3. “Elizabeth Newton and Rose Perpall: United in Freedom” — Narrated by African American Gullah historian and storyteller in the Carolinas, Dr. Jessica Berry and Jannifaye Singleton respectively, with English titles. The film portrays the intertwined stories of Elizabeth Newton and Rose Perpall, two maroon women who sailed with their families to the Bahamas in pursuit of freedom with contrasting fates.

4. “Susan Horse: a Black Seminole’s Trail of Tears” — Narrated by Creek Nation storyteller Linda Bear Wood, based in Oklahoma, with portions in the ancient Seminole language and English titles. The film showcases the courageous journey of Black Seminole Susan Horse, who traveled with her people and a band of Florida Seminoles to establish a community in Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico while facing ongoing threats to their safety and freedom.

5. “Milly Francis: A Tale of Perseverance” — Narrated by Cindy Helms, a member of the Santa Rosa Creek Band of north Florida, with a portion in the ancient Muscogee language and English titles. This film portrays the relentless spirit of Milly Francis, whose father the Prophet Josiah Francis, led the Red Stick movement, recounting the displacement and hardships experienced during the Creek Civil War and the Trail of Tears.

Different films will be shared at separate locations and feature specific guest artists.

The historic South Side School Cultural Center will feature two films and a pop-up art exhibit by Afro-Cuban Dancer/Artist Isa Garcia Rodriquez, who danced with the Miami City Ballet from 2002–2011. Isa’s captivating paintings and sculptures will be presented alongside a dance performance inspired by the stories of the women of the Saltwater Railroad and their families. His wife, Christie Sciturro, also a former dancer with MCB, is preparing a special tribute. Click the Eventbrite link to see a detailed list of the free cultural events on July 22nd and 23rd at South Side School Cultural Center — 701 S Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316. Free parking is available.

The Victory Black Box Theatre on Sistrunk Boulevard will feature the final screenings with cultural historians and guest artists. Click the Eventbrite link to see a detailed list of the free cultural events on July 28th at Victory Black Box Theater at 1409 NW Sistrunk Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311.

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