The 3rd Annual American Documentary Film Festival had its opening gala at the Camelot Theatres on March 27, 2014, in Palm Springs, Calif. On hand for the opening gala were filmmakers from around the globe, local celebrities and opera singers from the night's featured documentary film "Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing."
Opening the night were KESQ local newscasters Patrick Evans and Natalie Brunell. Special attention was given to Academy Award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone ("Born on the Fourth of July") who was in the audience, an award was presented to Debbi Hinton for Director of Development of the film festival and audience members applauded the numerous filmmakers in attendance.
The opening film "Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing," was a stirring portrait of black youth in post-Apartheid South Africa reaching for their dreams while working towards university degrees in opera. The three youths that were the main focus of the film took to the stage to sing in person after the conclusion of the film.
Thesele Kemane is a bass baritone. He has already found success in opera as he has sung for the United Nations General Assembly to mark Nelson's Mandela's birthday in 2012. Tonight he disclosed that he has just been selected to study at Julliard in New York, "Julliard is one of the best opera training programs in the U.S."
The very beautiful, soprano Linda Nteleza was wearing a glamorous black gown with fur trim and sung very lovely and gracefully. Linda has recently loss both parents and has been suffering from tuberculosis and pneumonia. Yet, she has a sense of strength that will enable this young woman to reach all her goals to sing at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. She thanks her instructor Kamal Khan, saying, "I've been through a lot and with the help of Kamal, he has helped me be positive."
Tenor Makudupanyane Senaoana has charisma much like famous tenors he grew up listening to, and his clear voice matched his confidence. He told of how he wants to write operas and other forms of music, "I want to tell the stories that are still untold today."
The Documentary Film Festival runs through March 31 and will be featuring screenings at Camelot Theatres, Helene Galen Performing Arts Center and Indian Wells Theater and Oliphant Auditorium. For a complete list of screenings, times and venues, see http://www.americandocumentaryfilmfestival.com/
For Palm Springs visitors and residents check out TheMovieGal.com.
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Whatever your movie choice this week, please remember your movie theater etiquette: silence your cell phones and no texting, please don't talk during the film and remove your children if they become a distraction to other audience members. Don't forget that laughing, crying and cheering are always approved behavior and even encouraged.
-Kay Shackleton is a film historian with special focus on Silent Films, see her work at SilentHollywood.com