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Umoja Film Festival rescheduled to April 9

 Jonesborough’s McKinney Center and leaders from Johnson City’s Umoja Festival are once again teaming up to prepare an evening of film and guided conversation as they present King Vidor’s acclaimed film “Hallelujah!”
Inclement weather caused the cancellation of the original Feb. 19 local event. The free screening will now take place on Thursday, April 9, at the McKinney Center.
“Hallelujah” debuted in 1929 as the first full-length African-American musical backed by a major studio. The film was chosen for the Umoja screening due to its cinematic history. King Vidor was nominated as best director for the film, though MGM considered the film a risky venture and required Vidor to invest his own salary into the production.
The film also has connections to the region, as it was filmed in Tennessee and Kentucky.
African-American film scholars note that “Hallelujah” gives an authentic representation of black entertainment and religious music in the 1920s, which no other film achieves. 
In 2008, “Hallelujah” was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
A moment in the film which is of vital importance in the history of jazz music, for example, is the dancehall scene, where a then unknown Nina Mae McKinney performs Irving Berlin’s “Swanee Shuffle.”
McKinney, who played seductress “Chick” in the film, went on to be seen as a great actress, singer and dancer by audiences in the U.S. and Europe at the time, though she is relatively unknown today.
The “Hallelujah” scene, filmed in New York, is considered an accurate representation of black dancehalls of the time, showing the roots of classic jazz.
According to the Library of Congress, most Hollywood films of the day “sanitized black music out of all recognition. In the 1930s, when black artists began to show their real styles, jazz had moved on to become more sophisticated and the whole style of behavior had changed.”
This film was Vidor’s first “talkie,” as he attempted to present a relatively non-stereotypical view of African-American life. Vidor, in 1929, is considered to have achieved a more true-to-life depiction than in nearly any other film of the day.
After the screening of the film, a guided discussion will follow. The discussion will examine the roles of African-Americans in early cinema and African-American representation in film since its beginning. 
Three short pieces will also be featured during the “Hallelujah” screening and discussion. 
The selections depict African-American life, dating from 1896 and 1898, including an 1898 piece from the Library of Congress featuring Buffalo Soldiers marching in Cuba as part of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.
The free screening of “Hallelujah” will take place at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough on April 9 at 6 p.m. For more information about this free screening, call the McKinney Center at 794-6320 or email [email protected]