The Arts

GRAND FUNK GEEKSBORO

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This Thanksgiving weekend, Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema is serving up something special – and it’s not turkey. It’s the North Carolina premiere of filmmaker Adam Kritzer’s award-winning indie drama Good Funk, which he produced and marks his feature debut as writer/director.

The film, an exploration of the environs and residents of the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, New York, recently enjoyed its international premiere at CPH PIX in Denmark, and made its New York premiere in September at the Harlem International Film Festival, where it won the Harlem Spotlight for Best Feature. Good Funk will be shown Friday with Kritzer in attendance to introduce the screening and field questions after.

The Geeksboro Good Funk screening is also a homecoming for Kritzer, who was born in Texas but brought up in Greensboro. “I split time now between upstate New York and Montreal, but my parents still live in Greensboro. I very much think of myself as a Southern filmmaker and a product of the South.”

As he’d be visiting his family for the holiday, the timing seemed perfect. “My Thanksgiving visit was planned before the screening,” he says. “I will be on the festival circuit with Good Funk for the next year or so, and the film won’t have its official release until, at the earliest, summer 2017, but I’ve just been dying to share what I’ve been up to with my North Carolina family. I’ve been quietly thinking about a Thanksgiving-weekend screening for the past few months and have been a fan of Geeksboro since it opened, so when the time came, setting up a screening there just seemed right – and (curator) Joe Scott is incredible. He is super easy to work with and treats filmmakers very fairly.”

Good Funk follows a group of characters whose acts of generosity and kindness have effects, both subtle and profound, on their lives. The film examines, and to an extent celebrates, the multi-cultural melting pot that isn’t just found in Red Hook, but in much of America.

The ensemble cast includes Sameerah Luqmaan-Harris, co-producer William Nadylam, Kalae Nouveau, Sandra Reaves-Phillips, Cedric Cannon, Victor Pagan, newcomer Leonay Shepherd, and filmmaker/actor Larry Fessenden. Perhaps the most dominant character in Good Funk is the city of Red Hook itself, beautifully shot by cinematographer Gideon de Villiers, with Marc Marder’s score further adding to the flavor.

That flavor extended to behind the scenes, as well, as the film’s crew included several locals. “After writing a rough draft of the script, I then recruited young people (ages 18-25) from the neighborhood to participate in a free, six-week film training and media literacy program. All the professionals on the film were required to teach their skill as a week-long unit to the apprentices. Over the course of the program, we covered everything from production and sound design to lighting, cinematography and screenwriting.

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“When we went into production, our crew was 50 percent professionals and 50 percent young people from the neighborhood – though everybody was around the same age. Everybody who worked on the film was paid equally, and everybody owns a percentage of the film’s back-end, so when the film begins to show a (financial) return, a portion of that money will go directly back to the awesome young people from the community who are grinding away on some radical and totally necessary arts-based social-justice programs.”

Given that Kritzer had never directed a feature before, Good Funk was as much on-the-job training for him as his team.

“This was the first time I worked with professional actors and was on a feature film set,” he says. “It was also the first time I ran an educational training program – a program for which there is no precedent. Making this film was a tremendous learning experience for me; it is what I did in lieu of film school, and I am a more fleshed-out artist for it. If I made Good Funk today, the production would run more smoothly, and the end product would be more clean and clear. However, I choose to celebrate all the possibilities the film has to offer than wallow in its imperfections. I think the imperfections give the film character; they show it was made by human hands. Yes, I’m really proud of this film.”

He’s also proud of Lace Crater, the evocative ghost story that he produced, marked the feature debut of writer/director Harrison Atkins, and was much talked-about at the RiverRun International Film Festival in April, where it screened twice.

“I love RiverRun,” Kritzer says. “(RiverRun programmer) Chris Holmes is a close personal friend and a tremendously talented filmmaker in his own right. RiverRun treats filmmakers with more respect than a lot of top-tier festivals do, plus their slate of programming is excellent across the board. Hopefully I will be back with Good Funk.”

Want to go …? Good Funk will be screened 5 pm Friday at Geeksboro Coffeehouse Cinema, 2134 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, with filmmaker Adam Kritzer in attendance. Tickets are $10 (general admission) and $5 (students with valid ID). For advance tickets or more information, call 336.355.7180 or visit the official Geeksboro website: http://geeksboro.com/.
For more information about Good Funk, visit www.facebook.com/goodfunkfilm
or www.twitter.com/agoodfunk. You can also sample the film as a five-song EP at: goodfunk.bandcamp.com.

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