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River City Drumbeat – New Documentary from Owsley Brown Presents – Premieres Nov 12 & 13 at Manhattan’s DOC NYC Film Festival

River City Drumbeat, the uplifting new feature documentary directed by Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté and produced by Owsley Brown Presents, will have its world premiere at the DOC NYC film festival on November 12 & 13. The film tells the story of Edward “Nardie” White, who has devoted his life to leading the River City Drum Corp (RCDC), an ensemble he co-founded with his wife, Zambia Nkrumah, in Louisville, Kentucky, to offer the youth of their West Louisville neighborhood a path to empowerment by connecting them with the art and cultural traditions of their African ancestors. A multigenerational story of music, love, and legacies set against the backdrop of the American South, River City Drumbeat is a timely reminder of the racial and economic issues at play in American society, the transformative power of music, and the incredible change one person can create. “Our culture is going to be our savior,” Mr. White says in the film, “If we tap back into that culture you’ll find out that’s where the power is at.”  Attending the premiere are directors Marlon Johnson and Anne Flatté, producer Owsley Brown, and film participants Edward White and Albert Shumake. The November 12 screening will be at Cinépolis Chelsea, and the November 13 screening will take place at the IFC Film Center; both theaters are in Manhattan.

Nearly thirty years ago, Edward “Nardie” White was teaching drumming in a Boys and Girls Club in Louisville. He and Nkrumah founded the River City Drum Corp as an extension of those efforts, striving not only to create a year-round musical family for the youth of their underserved West End neighborhood, but to provide participants with a blueprint for a successful life. RCDC became widely recognized and respected in Louisville, performing in churches, parades, city festivals, and schools across the city.

In River City Drumbeat, White, now a widower at age sixty-five, confronts the need to step down as director of RCDC and pass the mantle to the next generation. He chooses Albert Shumake, an alum who credits the program with saving his own life, to be the new leader. At the same time, White fulfills a promise he made to his late wife, Zambia: to see her last cohort through to their high school graduations.

Featuring an original score by award-winning composer B. Quincy Griffin (Oscar nominee for Daughter from Danang), the vivid cinematography of Juan Carlos Castañeda (​Death by a Thousand Cuts​), and sound design by Academy Award-winner Richard Beggs (Apocalypse Now), the film provides an intimate look at this story of mentorship, community effort against systemic barriers, and cultural preservation. In the words of the directors:

“We came to this story through our producer Owsley Brown, a Louisville native with a dedication to independent documentaries that explore the power of art and music. Owsley introduced us to Mr. White, a local hero at the critical crossroads of his last year leading the drum corps. We felt compelled to begin filming this iconic figure before he moved on, and wondered if and how the group would survive when he stepped down. Mr. White became our partner in the telling of his life story and welcomed us into the drum corps community that included his successor Albert Shumake, graduating high school seniors Imani and Jailen, and preteen Emily, all navigating life transitions. Together, we created an impressionistic, character-driven journey, where the protagonists and their emotional lives formed the core of the film. At the same time, we explored the rich geography of Louisville, a city that reveals the paradoxes and forces that are at the heart of many of our country’s issues today.”

An exclusive movie trailer for River City Drumbeat is available upon request.

About the Directors

Director Marlon Johnson​ is a ten-time Emmy Award-winner as both producer and director. He has worked on documentary films exploring music and cultural issues like ​Symphony in D​, the Emmy-winning ​Sunday’s Best and Coconut Grove: A Sense of Place. He directed the Ford Foundation-commissioned documentary Breaking the Silence, which chronicled the rise of HIV infection in African-American communities in the South. Filmmaker Anne Flatté has produced, directed and edited many independent documentaries, and has focused on music-related subjects over the past 15 years. She is director/producer of Symphony for Nature, the original web series Music Makes A City Now, and producer of Serenade for Haiti (Serenad pou Ayiti), directed by Owsley Brown.

About Owsley Brown Presents

Owsley Brown Presents (OBP) is an independent motion picture production company that produces original contemporary media works with an emphasis on artistic integrity and creative exploration. OBP productions include award-winning, feature-length documentaries that have enjoyed distribution at film festivals, as well as theatrical and broadcast television release worldwide. OBP also develops and produces creative programming for distribution on the Internet and other digital platforms.

Click here to download high-resolution photos.

World Premiere of River City Drumbeat

Nov 12 & 13
New York, NY
Nov 12: Cinépolis Chelsea
Nov 13: IFC Film Center
Directors: Marlon Johnson, Anne Flatté
Producers: Owsley Brown, Anne Flatté, Marlon Johnson
Directors of Photography: Juan Carlos Castañeda, John Beavers Anderson
Editor: Jeff Boyette
Sound Design: Richard Beggs
Original Music: B. Quincy Griffin

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© 21C Media Group, October 2019

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