While being questioned by a white man in 1962, in the small town of Butler, Choctaw County, Alabama, 18-year-old Carl Ray responded by saying "yes" and "no" instead of "yes, sir" and "no, sir," which were the customary responses when addressing white people. The man beat Ray severely for being disrespectful. An hour later, he went to Ray's home and shot his father eight times as Ray looked on helplessly.
Ray in Alabama courtroom in "A Killing in Choctaw" San Jose, CA (BlackNews.com) - San Jose, California educator, activist and former stand-up comic Carl Ray heads to Berlin, Germany to showcase his autobiographical documentary film "A Killing in Choctaw: the Power of Forgiveness." Written and produced by Ray, "A Killing in Choctaw" was directed by award winning Bay Area director Chike C. Nwoffiah. Ray and Nwoffiah will join a select group of filmmakers from all over the world who have been invited to showcase their films at the 20th Black International Cinema Festival in Berlin, Germany from May 5 to May 8, 2005.
"A Killing In Choctaw: the Power of Forgiveness" is an enthralling documentary on Ray's life and how the murder of his father in 1962 defined his life and held him prisoner in his own skin for over 20 years. Ray's compelling story comes alive under Nwoffiah's masterful direction.
The filmmaker effectively blends narration, reenactment, archival footage, and interviews as the documentary takes us back to the 1960s and sets the social context that bred many such horrific crimes. We then follow the subsequent trauma, depression, and denial that young Ray suffered and endured for over 20 years until he met a man in 1984 that taught him about the power of forgiveness. Ray attributes the act of forgiving the man who killed his father as saving his life. He describes it as "the most enjoyable moment of my life and a day of freedom from my self-imposed prison."
According to Nwoffiah, "This film took a little over two years to complete, but every minute was well worth it; from visits to the same courtroom where the trial took place, a revealing interview with the white photo journalist who took photos of the murder scene, to a conversation between Carl and his siblings about the incident for the first time in the forty years since their father's murder." Nwoffiah continued, "A Killing in Choctaw is a haunting awakening to America's age long ghost of racial injustice."
In September 2004, Ray's production company premiered the candid and soul-stirring documentary to a packed audience at San Jose's Montgomery Theater. In October of 2004, The New York Times ran a feature story on the film and commented on its significance for race dialogue in America. Los Angeles PBS affiliate KLCS TV/DT is currently working with the filmmakers to position a studio taped version of the story for acquisition as well as developing curriculum that will be piloted in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The Black International Cinema is a yearly interdisciplinary, intercultural festival produced and directed by FountainheadŽ Tanz Theatre/Cultural Zephyr e.V. and The Collegium - Forum & Television Program Berlin, which screens cinema from the African Diaspora and other films from varied intercultural backgrounds or perspectives; the festival focuses on presenting works of an artistic, cultural or political nature while and sharing educational, social, artistic and economic resources.
The 20th annual Black International Cinema will feature film/video, dance, theatre, music, seminars and gallery presentations. The festival is produced in association with Classic in Black, Global Cinema and Urban Music Initiative, U.S.A. and Global Film Festivals Initiative, U.S.A. About Carl Ray: In 1967, Carl Ray graduated from Tuskegee Institute with a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, he traveled to California to begin a career in the Aerospace Industry. Early in his career, he was sidetracked by a yearning to perform stand-up comedy.
Carl Ray started a Youth Opportunity Program in East Palo Alto in 1968; began recruiting youth to attend Historically Black Colleges and Universities in 1970; then undertook sponsoring tours to the colleges. Ray continues to host Spring and Fall tours to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). To date, he has chaperoned more than 2,500 students on HBCU tours.
In 1988, Ray, together with his wife, founded Courtland Esteem School - a private school in San Jose, California - where they continue to educate young African American children in grades one through six.
Carl Ray has performed his one-man, single act play "A Killing in Choctaw" more than 100 times at theaters, churches, colleges, museums and other venues throughout the United States. To learn more about Ray's fascinating biography, please visit www.carlraye.com
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