Curtis Caesar John’s passion is film and as the CEO of The Luminal Theater, the Black film archivist and his team bring Black indie films straight to the people. Since 2015, the nonprofit has provided fully curated exhibitions of diverse cinema and media of the Black and African diaspora allowing these artists to present their work to majority-Black communities across the United States.
Based in Brooklyn, New York, and Columbia, South Carolina, two of the films screened in several different states this year include Unapologetic and Black Rodeo. Unapologetic follows organizers as they seek justice for the deaths of Rekia Boyd and Laquan McDonald who were killed by police in Chicago. Black Rodeo is a 1971 documentary that captured rare footage of an all-Black rodeo in New York.
The Luminal Theater is also on the cusp of helping break emerging Hollywood directors as they showcased earlier works from Shaka King whose films include Judas and the Black Messiah about the infiltration and fall of the Black Panthers. Rolling out spoke with John about how he is moving Black cinema forward.
How has the Luminal Theater helped spread the word about independent Black films?
We are a conduit between the community and artists. We act as that middle company or organization that finds those films and shares them with the Black community so everyday Black folks can be connected to the Black filmmakers and artists that are making films for them and about them but just can’t always get to them. We want people to know that they don’t have to just rely on Netflix or go to the theaters to get access to these films.
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