FunkJazz Kafe: Diary of a Decade (The Story Of A Movement) is the story of a cultural legend as told by the innovators of an important, and in some cases overlooked, era in Black culture. Spanning the late 1980′s through to the early 2000′s, this story goes deep into the fabric of soul music, it’s definitions, it’s pioneers, it’s offspring, it’s movements, the challenges with the “mainstream” industry as well as the evolution of the FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival, a music and artistic renaissance movement born out of Atlanta’s diverse musical and cultural arts heritage. The film covers the decade when Atlanta’s underground music scene became established on the world stage and a new generation of soul singers and musicians emerged. Diary of a Decade: The Story of a Movement also explores the question of how live soul bands have become virtually non-existent in the commercial music landscape of the 21st century when there have traditionally been a plethora of soul and R&B bands since the creation of recorded music. Narrated by Chuck D from Public Enemy, the documentary features appearances by Cee Lo Green, Jill Scott, Jamie Foxx, Doug E. Fresh and Andre 3000. I sat down with filmmaker Jason Orr to discuss the documentary and the movement that inspired it.
What is the history of the music festival?
FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival was successfully started in 1994 to be a platform for unrecognized emerging talents in the full circle of artistic disciplines.
Why did you start it?
I started FunkJazz Kafé because of a need to foster talents in Black culture that were unrepresented.
How do the early days of the fest compare with it at its height?
I think we’ll see the height after this run with the movie. The movie has gained a lot of new patrons and participants around the country so I anticipate a audiences at FunkJazz Kafé that we haven’t seen before from all over the world.
Was it hard to get the artists to participate?
Not at all. It was really more about availability.
What made you decide to do the documentary?
I think it is necessary to tell this phenomenal story about the evolution of FunkJazz Kafé, our success, our place in history, the dissolve of “Soul” music in the commercial market and to educate people as to how to preserve this classic American culture that has so much to do with our cultural sustainability.
How long did it take to complete the film?
The idea to collect footage for the movie and document the magic that was happening at FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival began in 1996. The editing, collection and transferal of footage took about three years.
Are you surprised at the response the film is getting at screenings and festivals around the country?
Absolutely! The screenings are well attended for one…Then it’s mostly people (of all age groups) who have never been to FunkJazz Kafé or seen or experienced anything like it so for me that’s very rewarding.
Why is this film so important?
FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement) creates dialogue that could offer some solution as to how people today can begin to take more responsibility with what they do in the creative arts towards creating better lifestyles and social change.
What do you hope to accomplish with it?
An opportunity for the world to see (and think about) what has happened to “Soul” music, how or why it vanished and inspire others to create branded properties like FunkJazz Kafé to preserve our musical heritage that has enriched our lives like jazz, soul, blues, R&B and Hip Hop.
FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement) makes its Dallas debut on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 6:30 PM at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) located inside the Dallas Convention Center Theater Complex at 1309 Canton Street,Dallas, TX 75202. Orr will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. Tickets for the screening and film talk are on sale now for $5. For tickets, call TBAAL’s Box Office at 214-743-2400.