Beauford Delaney: So Splendid A Journey


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Pre-Production

LOGLINE

An Artist’s Life, From Tennessee to Paris, through Harlem. Paranoia, poverty, sexual conflicts, voices in his head, yet he was driven to create great art.

SYNOPSIS

Inspiring story of gay, Black American painter, Beauford Delaney. Troubled by voices from an early age, traumatized by the Red Summer riots of 1919. Despite poverty, he journeyed from Knoxville to Boston to New York’s Harlem Renaissance and finally to Paris, along the way creating great art, now admired worldwide.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

10 years ago, I was asked by a friend to film the graveyard ceremony of a black American artist who had died some 30 years before. I shot that along with the celebration of his life at the US embassy in Paris. Thus, began my exploration into the life and art of Beauford Delaney. As time passed, I began to find out that he was not only an artistic genius but also someone whose words, philosophy, gentleness, and life journey would enrich and inspire new generations. His close friends such as James Baldwin, who saw Delaney as his spiritual Father and Henry Miller both spoke of Beauford’s Buddha-like quality, kindness, and wisdom. Despite poverty, sexual conflict, being a gay man in a place and time where that was especially difficult, along with the incredible burden of being a Black person born in 1901 and traumatized by Red Summer Riot of 1919 in Knoxville Tennessee. He not only survived it all, he prevailed and found a way to create great art that endures today. During my research and reading through his journals, letters, and other papers stored at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem I found the inner world of Delaney beyond his art. It was now all of this I wanted to present on the screen. I needed to convey his words and thoughts as well as his life and art. Because so little footage exists of Beauford I decided that I would have his character recreated and played by a renowned Black actor in the documentary. So, in addition to going through interviews featuring art critics, gallery owners, and people who knew him and his artwork, we will also discover his life, struggles, and artistic genius via dramatized narrative sections using Beauford’s own words. In our endeavor to fully understand who Beauford Delaney was, we will travel to the places where he lived, worked, and studied. We will see the sights he would have seen and hear the music that he loved. We’ll also visit his art, now found in some of the most prestigious museums in the world including - Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York - Museum of Modern Art, New York - Whitney Museum of American Art, New York - National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC - Smithsonian American Museum of Art, Washington, DC. - Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. - Le Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. Aesthetically, because of Delaney’s understanding of light and his use of vibrant colors, the design and visual structure of the film becomes of even greater importance as we seek to explain with the film design itself, along with Delaney’s words, exactly what he meant and saw. This film will endeavor to present in the fullest way possible who Beauford Delaney was, his art, his life, his spiritual nature, and his vision. The film will display the beauty of the art he created as well as the passion and genuine, loving generous nature of the man himself.

KEY CREW

Zachary James Miller - Producer/Director /Writer

Zachary James Miller is a Director/Producer, Founder & C.E.O. 2 Bulls On The Hill Productions SARL. (Paris, France) He has written, directed, and produced several feature-length documentaries and TV series including the ”FADE TO BLACK” film series hosted by Clarke Peters (THE WIRE, TREME, ), and “JAZZ LIFE: AMERICAN JAZZ MUSICIANS IN EUROPE” (aka, NEVER THE SAME) for ARTE/ZDF featuring Steve Lacy and Mal Waldron. He also produced the award-winning feature ‘AFTER FALL, WINTER”. Upcoming feature films his company is developing include the Female-led Action/Spy thriller “TENNESSEE HONEY”, and feature-length political documentary, “COUNTER MEASURES: UNVEILING THE GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE STATE”, both of which he wrote or co-wrote and which he will produce and direct. His company also provides production services for foreign features, TV series and commercials shooting in France. The company packages international co-productions and serves as a Producer’s Representative, recent titles include the award-winning romantic comedy, MOLLY’S GIRL and the feature-length documentary, “ON TENDER HOOKS”. Zachary Miller also Directed and Produced the feature film, “A CRY FROM WITHIN” Starring Eric Roberts, (Dark Knight, The Expendables, Star 80), Cathy Moriarty, (Raging Bull), Robert Vaughn (The Man from Uncle). Miller has been a featured subject in various media including the multiple-part TV documentary, “Paris, Living the Dream” hosted by Sheryl Lee Ralph and books, “Beat of a Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life” by Dax Devlon-Ross, and “Black Paris Profiles” by Monique Wells. IMDb Vanity URL: (imdb.me/zachmiller) Twitter: (@ZachJamesMiller) Website: http://2bullsproductions.com/index.html#

Monique Wells - Producer

Dr. Monique Y. Wells is a fervent believer in the power of education to change lives. She has combined her passion for life sciences, literacy, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics), the Arts, study abroad, and women’s empowerment under the umbrella of her non-profit organization, the Wells International Foundation (WIF). She included the Arts as a Strategic Focus Area for WIF because of her passion for promoting the legacy of Knoxville, TN native, Beauford Delaney. Dr. Wells is a long-standing member of the African American community in Paris and president of the French non-profit association Les Amis de Beauford Delaney. Successes for the association include the preservation of Delaney’s gravesite, inclusion of his gravesite on the celebrity list at Thiais Cemetery, and installation of two commemorative plaques in the Montparnasse district of Paris – one at the Hôtel Le M, the other at the Hôtel Odessa. As co-founder of the Entrée to Black Paris (ETBP), Dr. Wells has worked with study abroad groups across the United States since 2001. She brought undergraduate students from the University of Arizona and K-12 educators from the U.S to Paris for a project that supported WIF’s inaugural event: an art exhibition entitled Beauford Delaney: Resonance of Form and Vibration of Color. She also organized a study abroad experience for 7- to 10-year old Knoxville, TN students to Paris as part of the Classes Duo Paris / Knoxville program, which is a collaboration between WIF and the Wells International Foundation: http://wellsinternationalfoundation.org

Zoran Veljkovic - Director of Photography

Zoran was classically trained in Eastern Europe where he studied the art and craft of cinematography with leading European filmmakers. A DP since 1985, Zoran has shot major television series for networks like the BBC and ITV. His feature films have won BAFTA and EMI nominations as well as prestigious festival awards in America, the UK, Italy, Spain, Japan, Holland, and Yugoslavia. Zoran’s rigorous early training enables him to push the envelope of modern technologies. He is constantly in demand and easily moves between the worlds of features, dramas, commercials, and TV series. Since 1991 Zoran has lived in London with his wife and children. For more information see: www.zoranveljkovic.com To read his IMDB credits click: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0892568/

Anthony DiMieri - Editor / 2nd Camera

Anthony was born in Brooklyn, raised in Orange County, New York, and, ever since picking up his mother’s camcorder in the second grade, he’s set out to pursue a career in film and television. After earning a B.A. in History and Communications & Media Studies at Fordham University, soon after he began to hone his skills in production, creative ideation, branding, and viral marketing. Now, with his years of production experience in commercial advertising accompanied by his background in news, journalism, and political activism, Anthony has developed the unique ability to blend the borders between mass entertainment and harsh reality A former activist and organizer in the movement against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Anthony DiMieri now makes his living working in media: writing, directing, producing, shooting, editing, and even acting in a variety of productions, ranging from hard hitting investigative journalism, political and social satire, to plain old slapstick. His background includes more than half a decade of experience in news and independent media, having produced numerous news packages for outlets such as BBC Newsnight, Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, and Democracy Now! In 2013, Anthony traveled with journalist Greg Palast to the nation of Kazakhstan, shooting video for an upcoming documentary covering the extralegal underbelly of the global oil trade. Official Website: https://anthonydimieri.com/ IMDb Vanity URL (imdb.me/anthonydimieri)

Pamela Chess - Co-Producer

Pamela Chess has worked internationally alongside the late executive producer and Oscar-award winner, Dino De Laurentiis; and Oscar-winning filmmakers Harvey Weinstein and Martin Scorsese, providing executive business and administrative support to these three talents; while leading the work of the Executive Office and overseeing small production companies. As a part of exercising discretionary authority for decision-making on behalf of these producers/director, Chess collaborated and interfaced regularly with motion picture studio heads; A-list celebrity talent; A-list agents and publicists; the press, general counsel; investors and political figures worldwide.

A film career that spans 20+ years, Chess has also worked on a freelance basis with Emmy-award winning producer, Jerry Kupfer (Strangers with Candy, 30 Rock); and Pulitzer Prize for Drama Nominee / Tony Award Nominee / Drama Desk Award Winner, Anna Deveare Smith; and other Oscar-winning and Grammy-winning clientele.

In 2014, she joined philanthropist, George Soros’ global human rights organization in Finance, and has recently begun to focus on film activism:  documentary film and social change after serving as Moderator for Talk Backs with award-winning filmmakers, Alexandria Bombach (On Her Shoulders, 2018); Karen Thorsen (James Baldwin: Price of the Ticket, 1989); and Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, 2012 and The Brink, 2019).

Productions include: AVIATOR (2004); GANGS OF NEW YORK-World Premiere Tour (2002); HANNIBAL (2001); U-571 (2000); STRANGERS WITH CANDY (1999); BREAKDOWN (1997); BOUND (1996); SOLOMON AND SHEBA (1995); POST PRODUCTIONS: RAGING BULL DVD –New Edition (Re-release 2003); ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE DVD – New Edition (Re-release 2003)

Bruce Aitken - Producer

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) and Partner in Aitken Berlin international law firm.  Has had a successful career in four areas: (a) customs & trade; (b) homeland security; (c) film production; and (e) hi-tech issues policy-making & advocacy. His film career has been distinguished by the following:

Multi-Media Productions: Member, Board of Advisors: 2004-2010

World Business Review & 21st Century Business Co-anchored homeland security shows with Gens. Alexander Haig & Norman Schwarzkopf (2004-9)

Appeared on television: Al Jazeera, Bravo, CNBC, CNN, C-Span, Star Alliance (2002-2009)

Award-Winning Film Producer, including awards at the following Film Festivals (“FF”):

The Roots of Terrorism (Doc. Short Film, 2004-9)

After Fall, Winter (2011) (Best Picture Awards: Austin FF (Official Selection); Raindance FF (Nom.); Wild Rose FF (Best Picture)

Eric Schaeffer: Life Coach (2012)

A Cry From Within (2012): Fantasporto FF: (Best Film Nom.)

Boy Meets Girl (2014): 41 FF awards, including, among others, for Best Film: Bloomington Pride FF; Calgary Fairy Tale FF; Chicago Int’l. FF; FF Homochron; Iris Prize FF; San Diego FF; & Seattle Translations FF; Sydney Mardi Graw FF; Teaneck Int’l. FF.

The Trade Negotiation Capacity Gap (2016, Doc. Short)

God the Worm (Post-Production, 2020)

Beauford Delaney: So Simple a Journey (Doc. Feature, 2020, Pre-Production)

The Con in Cannes (Doc. Short, 2020, Pre-Production)

 

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