Black Stories: Rural Voices


“Black Stories: Rural Voices” will explore issues facing small town and rural communities in the Southeast through documentary, horror, Afrofuturist, and fantasy film. Curated through a community programming imperative, these films will inspire dialogue on the evolution of Blackness, the expansion of its definition, and the acceptance of its diversity.

This will be the Nickelodeon Theatre’s third year programming “Black Stories” during Black History month. “Black Stories” has been a space to explore classic Black filmmaking, as well as a forum for new emerging and experimental works. Over the past couple of years, the Nickelodeon has also made a concerted and institutional effort to expand Black and inclusive programming through various series hosted at the Nick and via strategic selections of independent Black films that are not part of standard Art House programming.  By responding to the needs of our diverse city and utilizing film as an educational and community tool, we are able to slowly redefine what first-run art house programming can be.

Beginning last year, “Black Stories” has aligned with the Indie Grits Labs (IGL) fellowships project theme. For the past four years, community fellows have been invited by IGL to explore a given theme through a series of artist-led educational workshops, public forums, exhibitions, and project development sessions.  This year, Indie Grits Labs is focusing on the issues facing small town and rural communities in the Southeast.  The rise of industrialized farming and the loss of domestic manufacturing have transformed the Southern landscape and we now see communities struggling with many of the same issues faced by underserved urban populations: limited access to education, health care, and opportunities for advancement. Each of the films, curators, and post-screening panels in this series reflect this urgency in ways that we hope will inspire reflection and dialogue.

This year’s films in “Black Stories: Rural Voices” were selected by a community programming committee made up of Indie Grits Rural Fellows, local artists, and educators.  The Nickelodeon’s commitment to creating an inclusive space is unwavering, and this must be reflected in the ways we program; representation is vital to changing what ultimately becomes the canon of art-house and independent film.  Each member of the programming committee selected a film which intersects their interests and questions of rural life, providing a truly engaging programming block. 

Thank you to our programming committee:

Mahkia Greene
Sufia Giza
Thaddeus Jones Jr.
Cedric Umoja
Torres Perkins

Artwork and design for this series by Dogon Krigga.


Feb 13

Wilmington On Fire

Rosewood has long been infamous, but Wilmington came first and was even more devastating in its effects. In 1898, Wilmington was North Carolina's largest city, with a majority black population, a thriving black middle class, and a biracial Republican-Populist fusion government. On November 10, an armed mob of Democrat-backed white supremacists opened fire on African American neighborhoods, slaughtering hundreds and driving thousands out of the city for good.

In a five-year passion project that consumed all his resources, director Christopher Everett amassed rare photographs, original research, and testimonies from historians and descendants of the victims to uncover a shocking event that marked a turning point in the politics of the post-Reconstruction South.

This film is part of our "Black Stories: Rural Voices" series. Curated by Sufia Giza.

Please join us after the screening for a talkback discussion moderated by Sufia Giza and featuring filmmaker Christopher Everett, Brenda Preston (Retired Community Services Professional), and Monifa "Selah the Poet" Lemons (Director, The Watering Hole).

Christopher Everett is a creative director, producer, archivist, and curator. His is the president of Speller Street Films, North Carolina's premiere film production and distribution company. 

Monifa Lemons, recognized as Selah thePoet, began her poetry career
in Columbia, SC in the late 90s as a Spoken Word Artist and Host at
various open mic venues in the Carolina. As a staple in the southeast
community, in 2012 she became the Co-Founder/Director of The Watering
Hole Poetry Organization which prides itself in bringing Harlem
Renaissance spaces to the contemporary south. She now resides in
Columbia, SC where she is working as a creative consultant and artistic
entrepreneur while writing her first manuscript and teaching
writing/visioning workshops in her community and abroad. Her work can
most recently be found in The African American Review (July 2016), and
in African Voices (May 2017).

Brenda J. Preston (best known as BJ Preston) is located to Columbia, SC and is from Oakland. She has an M.Ed Degree with extensive employment as a community services professional. She is a mother, sister, nana, Keeper of Black Culture, and Lifetime Member currently active with the Richland County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.Inc.

Feb 20

The People Under the Stairs

When young Fool (Brandon Adams) breaks into the home of his family’s greedy and uncaring landlords, he discovers a disturbing scenario where "Mommy" and "Daddy" have locked a group of children in their creepy basement. As Fool attempts to flee, he meets their daughter, Alice (A.J. Langer), who has been spared any extreme discipline by her deranged parents. Can Fool and Alice escape before it’s too late?

Directed by Wes Craven.

This film is part of our "Black Stories: Rural Voices" series. Curated by Thaddeus Jones Jr.

Join us after the screening for a panel discussion moderated by the film's curator, Thaddeus Jones Jr. and featuring Dr. Frank Martin (Lecturer of Art History and Theory), Lauren Waring Douglas (Producer/Filmmaker), Derek Walker (Owner, Brown and Browner Ad Agency), and Jason Gourdine (Filmmaker, Owner and Founder of Black Collective).

Dr. Frank Martin is a  lecturer in art history and theory; organizer of colloquia and symposia on aesthetics and the fine arts and how these phenomena interface with politics, theory, philosophy, and society; mentor to students regarding assessment and criticism of traditional and non-traditional fine arts, including but not limited to painting, sculpture, installation, film and other forms.
Jason Gourdine is an entrepreneurial filmmaker experienced in developing projects for the independently run company Crown Vision Media. He is the owner and founder of Black Collective, a video-centric news/entertainment platform devoted to providing African-Americans news stories and perspectives and a 2018 South Carolina Arts Commission Production Fellow. Most notably, Gourdine helmed the production of an award-winning independent feature film, Enter the Dominion, winning Best Feature Film at the Charlotte Black Film Festival, Honorable Mention at The Texas Black Film Festival, and acquired national distribution through Maverick Entertainment. 

Behind The Scenes coverage of Director Roni Henderson's Production Bridge Refrain

Feb 27

Afrofuturist Shorts

"The series of short films I've chosen reflect the multifaceted experience of blackness through the lens of several Black filmmakers. These filmmakers choose to give voices to blackness from perspectives of life far exceeding society’s portrayals of a cookie-cutter, status quo black experience.

I felt the need to curate films that would bring a wider perspective and greater understanding of Afrofuturism; which could include the ever so popular Wakanda, without Wakanda being the primary focus of what blackness means.  This reflection on Afrofuturism is important at a time when it is continuing to become more and more expansive and reflective of African diasporic experiences." - Cedric Umoja


They Charge for the Sun
Terence Nance, 2016

Nuotama Bodomo, 2014

Isaac C. Udogwu, 2017

Roni Nicole Henderson, 2018

Wanuri Kahiu, 2009