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  • Writer's pictureArmiel Chandler

Culture Spotlight Featuring John Alexander

After interning with Sam Raimi on Drag Me to Hell (Cannes 2009), John Alexander graduated from Harvard in 2011, where he won the McCord Arts Prize. He edited One Way to Drown, executive produced by Brett Ratner, Running Wild, and Shut Up and Drive (Tribeca 2015). His directorial feature debut, Bender (2016), a cult thriller about America’s first serial killing family, won a Golden Strands award for Outstanding Cast, and Alexander directed experimental thriller Suspect (2017) with the American Film Institute. His debut documentary This Is Love (2018) has screened at 40 film festivals worldwide and won top prizes in 12, including the Spirit Award at Raindance in London and Best International Documentary in Rome. Alexander’s company Crook & Nanny Productions specializes in the production and post-production of stylized films that frame unique voices in a timely landscape.

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival? We were so honored that This Is Love was selected to make its NY Premiere as the opening night feature of the Hip Hop Film Festival. To show the film to a packed house at the National Black Theatre in the heart of Harlem was a very meaningful experience for myself, for Rudy, the Loves, and our whole team. It is a satisfying acknowledgment of Love's lasting legacy as one of the true unsung sources of the music and culture that masses experience today.

Why are stories from the culture important? Stories from the culture are important to be heard because so often the voices who have influenced us have slipped through the cracks, or been mitigated or silenced by systemic racism and corruption. The humble can all too often fall to the wayside against righteous self-promoters, whom modern media has beguiled with superficial rewards. Researching the culture regardless of one's background is a deep, complex, never-ending investigation of what makes the world the way it is. Recognizing where the human race has come from and what we have gone through together is a start toward bringing hope for a brighter, more loving, future.

What projects are you working on now? We are currently in pre-production on feature documentary Little Satchmo, about the secret daughter of Louis Armstrong. It's a story born in Harlem, being adapted from Sharon Preston-Folta's autobiography Little Satchmo, co-written with Denene Millner, which the world has yet to experience in film form. Producers JC Guest, Lea Umberger, Sharon Preston-Folta and I are very excited to bring this never-before-seen side of Armstrong's legacy into the discourse, and to shed light on a daughter -- a human being -- whose life until recently was largely rendered invisible. Follow @littlesatchmodoc on social to stay up to date on this journey.

Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival is important? Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important as they are truly an artistic hub and beacon in such a culturally rich center of New York City and of the United States.

Check out the official trailer below for This is love which is set to premiere July 4th weekend.

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