John Singleton-Produced Documentary “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later” to Air April 18 on A&E Network 

Director John Singleton (photo via Variety.com)

article by Cynthia Littleton via variety.com

A&E Network will mark the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots next month with a two-hour documentary from filmmaker John Singleton. “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later,” set to debut April 18, tells the story of the civil unrest that shook the nation from the perspective of those who lived through a week of upheaval following a jury’s acquittal of four Los Angeles Police Department officers charged in the 1991 beating of African-American motorist Rodney King.

King’s arrest and savage treatment at the hands of veteran LAPD officers was caught on videotape by a local resident who gave the incendiary footage to KTLA-TV Los Angeles. KTLA’s coverage and airing of the nine-minute recording depicting cops kicking and beating King with batons while he was lying on the ground set off a firestorm of outrage and protest over the LAPD’s treatment of minorities.

The incident coincided with the dawn of the 24/7 news cycle fueled by the growth of cable news and the spread of home video recording technology.Singleton, a native of Los Angeles, was fresh out of USC film school and had just launched his career as a movie director with 1991’s Oscar-nominated “Boyz n the Hood” when the riots erupted on April 29, 1992, the day acquittals of the four officers were handed down by a nearly all-white jury.

Five days of violence and unrest left at least 55 people dead, more than 2,000 injured and inflicted more than $1 billion in property damage.“I believe the 1992 L.A. uprising has never truly been given a voice until now,” Singleton said. “We’ve attempted to chronicle the untold stories and unique perspectives of people whose lives were profoundly affected by this event. As a native Los Angeleno I know the actions of that three-day event didn’t just appear out of thin air. The city was a powder keg boiling at the seams for many years under police brutality and economic hardship of people of color.”

Among those featured in the documentary are actor-activist Edward James Olmos, police officers, rioters, bystanders caught in the crossfire and reporters who covered the upheaval. “L.A. Burning” hails from Entertainment One and Creature Films. The doc is directed by One9 and Erik Parker.

“L.A. Burning” is one of several TV productions in the works to mark the anniversary of the violence that shook Los Angeles and the world. Filmmaker John Ridley is behind the two-hour ABC special “Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992,” set to air April 28.  On April 18, Showtime will air the documentary “Burn Mother—–r Burn!,” examining the history of racial tensions and rioting in Los Angeles.

To read full article, go to: A&E Network Sets Los Angeles Riots ‘25 Years Later’ Documentary From John Singleton (EXCLUSIVE) | Variety

Artel J. Great, 1st Black Valedictorian of UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television Wins Cinema Research Institute Fellowship

Artel Great Project Catalyst

After graduating summa cum laude, the first black valedictorian from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film & Television, Artel J. Great is already raising the bar. A young, innovative visionary, Great is the 2014 recipient of the Cinema Research Institute Fellowship for innovation, which puts him in a class by himself at the onset of what may very well be a long and rewarding career.

Already an entrepreneur, Great has designed and founded Project Catalyst, a transmedia organization that combines creative community building practices with cinema, visual art, music, and technology. With the recent launch of the Project Catalyst App, there is no telling which direction Great will be heading when he gets off running.

BlackEnterprise.com recently spoke with Artel about innovation, his drive to succeed, and being a visionary.

BlackEnterprise.com: You are the founder of Project Catalyst. Explain what the company is and describe your role.

Artel J. Great: Project Catalyst is a media platform that uses technology to provide access to alternative entertainment. We specialize in showcasing groundbreaking artists who are creating from diverse humanistic perspectives in film, music, and visual art.  Our mission is to offer a space for the expansion of multicultural media visibility.  I’m responsible for the overall vision of the company and for overseeing business operations.  I’m also the inventor of the Project Catalyst app, which allows users to watch amazing multicultural films, music videos, and documentaries on their smartphones or tablets on both Apple and Android devices, and I serve as the chief curator of the content we program into the app.

You were announced as the 2014 recipient of the Cinema Research Institute Fellowship for innovation. Congratulations! What does this mean, and how will this achievement help you in your line of work?

Thank you! The CRI fellowship means that executives in a film think-tank believe my ideas are cutting-edge and promising enough to nurture. It also means that I have financial support for one year to test an innovative model in the market, which will help procure long-term funding to secure the company’s growth.

Why did you choose a career in film?

I realized film’s ability to impact the viewer’s vision of possibilities. A good film is like a direct portal into memory— a waking dream. Film helps us understand the human experience so we can figure out who we are in the world. And since I’m committed to critical intervention through creative engagement, I understood that film could be a powerful tool to rally an advancement of consciousness.

After graduating summa cum laude as the first black valedictorian at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film & Television, what is next for you?

The funny thing is I never set out to be valedictorian.  I was just determined to do my best and work to the highest of my ability.  When I was told I would be valedictorian and that I was the first black person to achieve that distinction, I was humbled. That wasn’t my objective, but it happened and I’m grateful.  I earned it.  It’s historic.  In terms of awards, I don’t really focus on that.  I focus on doing my work.  Making a positive contribution. That’s what I think about— what can I give of myself to make a contribution to our culture?  If I’m blessed to win more awards I’d be grateful to accept them in the spirit of the ancestors who sacrificed so much for me to even have an opportunity.  They’re my motivation.

Project Catalyst, Artel J. Great

What projects have you worked on or are you currently working on, if any?

Currently, I’m touring across the U.S. launching the new Project Catalyst app.  We’ve successfully organized live events and presentations in New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles to introduce our new film and music app to the world.  We now have users in 11 countries across Europe, Asia, North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.  Our Project Catalyst App offers a progressive voice to multicultural communities with fresh, insightful entertainment that empowers and illuminates.

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