16th Annual AACC Film Forum
The August Wilson Center - Building on a Legacy (30 min) is a film that documents the development of The August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh, PA. It includes interviews with the organizers who helped to create the Center and with family, friends, and contemporaries who knew August Wilson and deeply understand the essence of his plays and his significance in Pittsburgh and the world. More than just the story of one Center, LEGACY offers an example that emphasizes the importance of all such institutions to local and national culture and the uncertainties they face. This film screening will include a discussion moderated by playwright and screenwriter Richard Wesley, in conversation with Billy Jackson, founder and principal of NOMMO Productions, and the film director of LEGACY. A lively performance by Spektrums Africans, an African dance and drum company, will accompany this event.
Come early to view vanessa german:…please imagine all the things I cannot say…., a large-scale, immersive exhibition of mixed-media assemblages by vanessa german, former Pittsburgh resident and inaugural fellow at the August Wilson Center of African American Culture.
This event is sponsored by MAM’s African American Cultural Committee (AACC).
1 p.m. Visit the special exhibition, vanessa german:…please imagine all the things I cannot say…., with a docent
2 p.m. Film Forum
Billy Jackson is a national award-winning documentarian and principal owner of NOMMO Productions, which has produced more than 50 documentaries, dramatic, and promotional films. NOMMO’s client list ranges from the ACLU, Alcoa, BET, and Duquesne Light, to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Administration and the NYC Dept. of General Service, among others. For many years Jackson also freelanced as a cinematographer, winning awards as a crew member on documentaries by Blackside, Inc. (producers of “Eyes on the Prize”) and William Greaves Productions.
A devoted educator, Jackson was an associate professor at Emerson College, taught film courses at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, and worked as a consultant/designer on educational curricula. He has also served as a consultant, cinematographer, and/or producer for government, private industry, independent production houses, and television stations. Other positions have included director/cameraman on PBS documentaries and production manager on an NBC Sports Special.
In 1982 Jackson was co-producer and production manager for “Booker T. Washington,” which won the Cine Golden Eagle award. He also produced “Didn’t We Ramble On,” a documentary on black marching bands, featuring Dizzy Gillespie as narrator, which won several awards, including Best Film from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and a Blue Ribbon from the American Film and Video Festival in 1991.
Jackson founded Community Media in 1989 and served as its program director for 14 years. Community Media was a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization that offered neighborhood film screenings of high-quality, independent films and videos, trained youth in video production and presentation, produced documentaries about contemporary issues, and provided video documentation services for other nonprofit organizations. “A Safe Place,” a documentary about gangs, produced by Community Media, won a Community Video first-place award in 1995 from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Another Community Media production, “Things That Fit,” on August Wilson’s play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” won a Cultural Affairs Documentary runner-up award in 1999 from the National Black Programming Consortium. Community Media’s work was acclaimed in the community and generously supported by local and national funders. Jackson has received grants from NEA and NEH, PA Council on the Arts, PA Humanities Council, the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, and numerous local foundations.
Jackson’s “Enough IS ENOUGH: The Death of Jonny Gammage,” a one-hour television documentary on the law enforcement and criminal justice systems in Pittsburgh and the U.S., won Best Documentary Feature at International Black DocuFest in 2007. His documentary on jazz drummer Roger Humphries premiered in 2013’ in 2013, and he will soon release documentaries on jazz artist Gary Bartz, Pittsburgh’s August Wilson Center for African American Culture, and civil rights leader and Tuskegee Airman Wendell Freeland.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and M.Ed. from Harvard University, and has made a lifelong study of youth education in media arts. He has served on panels for the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and on the boards of corporations and many media, social service, and arts organizations. He remains committed to documenting and teaching the history and culture of Africans in America; increasing resources for media arts, multicultural programming, and youth education; providing greater opportunities for developing artists; and giving credit to those “soldiers” on whose shoulders we stand in recognition of the progress we have inherited.
Richard Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Howard University. Currently, Mr. Wesley is an Associate Professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has just completed eight years as the Chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing. He currently sits on the Selection Committee for the Black Film Festival of the Newark Museum of Art, the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City, and is an Advisor to the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers University in Brooklyn, NY.
Mr. Wesley has written the following plays: “The Black Terror, Sirens,” “The Mighty Gents,” “The Talented Tenth,” and “Autumn.” He has written the libretti for the operas, “Papa Doc,” “Kenyatta,” “W.E.B. and Booker T,” and “Scott, Garner, Gray says James Baldwin,” all for the Newark-based Trilogy Opera Company. He was also the librettist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize winning “Central Park Five,” with music composed by Anthony Davis. Two other motion pictures for which he wrote the script are “Native Son” (1984) and “Fast Forward” (1985). He has also authored the scripts for numerous movies and television series produced by PBS, NBC, and Showtime.
Mr. Wesley has shared two NAACP Image Awards for “Best Picture,” for “Uptown Saturday Night” and “Let’s Do It Again,” both of which starred Sidney Poitier. He is also the author of the historical memoir, “It’s Always Loud In the Balcony: From Harlem to Hollywood and Back.” He is married to the novelist, Valerie Wilson Wesley.