Roger Ross Williams' 'Traveling While Black' At New Frontier Story Labs + 'God Loves Uganda' On PBS In 2013

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by Tambay A. Obenson
October 3, 2012 2:20 PM
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Roger Ross Williams may not be a household name (yet), but the man has 2 projects in the works currently, that have attraced the kind of in-development attention that I think many would embrace fully.

First, in case you're wondering who he is, Williams' last film, the Zimbabwe-set Music by Prudence, won the 2010 Oscar for Best Documentary Short - the highest filmmaker honor (in ths country anyway). The award made Williams the first African American to win an Oscar for directing and producing a film, short or feature (trivia question).

You have to remember him, or at least remember the moment when he went up to the podium to receive his Oscar, after his name was called, and well, the above photo should hopefully help your recollection.

Over the summer, Williams' God Loves Uganda, was 1 of 8 international projects selected to receive a piece of the $150,000 in documentary finishing funds from the 2012 Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund; Described as a journey into the heart of East Africa, where Ugandan pastors and their American counterparts spread God’s word and evangelical values to millions desperate for a better life. Inspired by his own roots in the African American Baptist church, director Williams seeks to explore a place where religion and African culture intersect, in the film.

I'm was and still am intrigued.

The project was also 1 of 24 documentary film fellows representing nine film projects to participate in the 2012 Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Labs, so it's a project that's off to a great start.

And today, it's been announced that another project Williams has in development, was selected by the Sundance Institute, as 1 of 6 projects for the New Frontier Story Lab that will take place from October 21-26 at the Sundance Resort in Utah.

The project is titled Traveling While Black, and wis being produced by Woo Jung Cho (she produced Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela with director Thomas Allen Harris).

Here's how Traveling While Black described:

Through the use of documentary film, collaborative storytelling, digital cultural mapping, and a role-playing interactive game, Traveling While Black bridges the gap between the past and the present by raising critical empathy about the harrowing landscapes African-Americans traversed during the pre-civil rights era and facilitating a dialogue about the challenges contemporary minority travelers still face today.

Yet another project by the filmmaker that I'm intrigued by, based on that decription alone.

The New Frontier Story Lab is described as:

... an intensive, residential retreat focused on creative support, which includes individualized story sessions, conversations about key artistic, design and technology issues, and case study presentations. Drawing talent and expertise from all of Sundance Institute’s creative programs, including Feature Film, Documentary Film, and the Sundance Film Festival, the Lab has been planned under the supervision of Michelle Satter, Founding Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program.

We'll likely see his feature-length documentary, God Loves Uganda, first, since it's currently in post-production, and is set to premiere on PBS in 2013. 

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