Watch the official trailer for JIG SHOW!

JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, a documentary film by Leslie Cunningham

New Film by TRIBES Entertainment Coming 2020!

TRIBES creator and documentary filmmaker Leslie Cunningham is making the film that has become her life’s work. Nearly ten years in creation, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana is preparing for big screens around the globe in 2020. Watch the extended trailer now!

In the feature documentary produced by TRIBES Entertainment Films, Cunningham and a cast of colorful characters take viewers on a personal tour of her grandfather’s iconic Black and Cuban stage revue that broke carnival records across the U.S. and Western Canada, birthed music icons Rufus Thomas, Fontella Bass and Mercedes Valdés, and significantly impacted Black and Latin entertainment during Jim Crow. Also unearthed is the life and lore of producer Leon Claxton, a brave African-American showman who left an extraordinary legacy despite the insurmountable odds against him and his dreams.

Extended for Harlem in Havana fans around the world, the film trailer showcases the iconic outdoor revue through breathtaking never-before-digitized show photographs, rarely seen historical clips and on-interviews with former performers, past patrons, historians and academics who bring their perspective to the conversation. JIG SHOW also features classic and new music that honor Claxton, one of Tampa’s most beloved showmen, the voluptuous brown-skin showgirls and tenacious entertainers of color who bravely showcased their talents on the front-line of racial polarization and left an indelible mark on entertainment around the globe.

The film is part of a larger body of documentary work called The Harlem in Havana Project, a transmedia project Cunningham started to help revive the show’s rich history through a variety of thought-provoking content, including:

“This project is guaranteed to expand your knowledge of the Black and Cuban performers that shaped American entertainment before television. Above all else, my goal is to rescue this arts and entertainment history from death and insert “Harlem in Havana” and the story of the traveling ‘jig show’ into the narrative of American popular culture before these memories and artifacts die with the individuals that carry them”, says Cunningham.

View the film media kit here. Learn more at jigshow.com.

Contact the filmmaker at lesliecunninghamfilms@gmail.com or info@harleminhavana.com.

Watch Finding Aumont Whitaker

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FINDING AUMONT WHITAKER
A short documentary film by Leslie Cunningham

At age 22, Dina learned her real father was a postman from Compton, California. Her mother told her he was married and she shouldn’t interfere. Dina didn’t. Left with three assumptions- he either didn’t know about her, he didn’t want her or he didn’t love her, Dina convinced herself she was her father’s unknown child.  More than two decades later, when Dina finds her siblings on Facebook, she sets out on a trip across the country to surprise them. An emotional journey filled with sorrow, love and laughter, Finding Aumont Whitaker will uplift hearts and bring families closer together.  Run-time 11:41 minutes. A TRIBES Entertainment Film.

Finding Aumont Whitaker -Trailer from Leslie Cunningham Films on Vimeo.

Visit www.findingaumont.com.

JIG SHOW!?

A provocative title for the forthcoming doc film by TRIBES Entertainment

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Jiggaboo…jigga…jigger…jig. As a journalist and documentarian, Leslie Cunningham (TRIBES Creator and filmmaker) is compelled to search out truth in her work and without bias of her own positionality in the world or in relation to the subject. Thus, she admits she was offended when she learned her grandfather’s show, Harlem in Havana, was considered the carnival ‘Jig Show’.

“In my lifetime, I’ve known the term ‘jiggaboo’, as an insult to black people, and I immediately made this connection. The idea of calling my film JIG SHOW made me very uncomfortable and continues to make me uncomfortable, as I suspect it will make others uncomfortable as well, ” says Cunningham, who has received several requests from Harlem in Havana show fans to reconsider the film’s title. Yet, the more Cunningham became aware of the power and punch this three-letter word held in the progress of this project, the more she become aware of the inevitability of her film title.

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TRIBES Creator and filmmaker Leslie Cunningham

During her research, Cunningham found an etymology of the term ‘jig’ born in the European renaissance, in celebration- play and dance to song- that devolved into a racist slur that found a temporary and perplexing home on the pages of Billboard magazine as Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana endeared fans in communities across North America, west of the Mississippi. This so-called ‘jig’ show became a gem in the cap of the world’s largest carnival, while performers of color back east bumped painfully against the walls of the Chitlin Circuit or the coveted few opportunities in America’s major cities.

Cunningham came to understand this word and classification reached beyond the politics of the day as do the discourses on race engaged by her grandfather, Leon Claxton’s show.  A journey into the complexity of American entertainment and race history, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, seeks to tell the most honest story. A DOCUMENTARY FILM BY TRIBES Entertainment.

FILM STATUS: Currently in early production. Crowdfunding campaign coming soon! Stay tuned here at jigshow.com or harleminhavana.com. Contact Leslie Cunningham at lesliecunninghampro@gmail.com.

Watch M.I. On Demand! A TRIBES Entertainment Film

M.I. Film Flier

LAINE BROWN, a spirited and passionate male impersonator born on North Carolina’s rural coast, transforms by taping down her breasts, shaving her head, and studying the masculine performances of today’s most famous male entertainers -to become the incomparable NATION TYRE, show-stopper and ground-breaker for women in drag. Challenged by a desire to please all of those that love her, Nation is on a mission to generate acceptance for women like her. As she pushes the bounds of female gender identity, is there room for a lone performer, to challenge the constraints at work in the African-American and LGBT community in pursuit of fame and visibility on the world stage?

WATCH ON DEMAND

In the new feature documentary film M.I., A Different Kind of Girl, filmmakers, Leslie Cunningham and Alana Jones enter the world of new millennium drag and pick up the torch ignited by documentary films like Paris is Burning to investigate attitudes in their own LGBT and African- American communities about women in drag. In the process, they uncover powerful ideas about female gender identity and sexuality in not only the mainstream popular culture but also within the marginalized LGBT and African American communities where Nation has made a name for herself.

Set in the American South, this thought-provoking film from TRIBES Entertainment uses candid interviews, performance footage, artful b-roll, images of striking green in the Carolina Piedmont and more to bring viewers through the flashing lights into the heart of Nation Tyre (M.I.).  Introducing Laine Brown as Nation Tyre, The House of Tyre, Breyannah Allure, Paris Brooks, Image, First Lady, Hollywood and many more. Featuring music and special commentary by Hip Hop’s hottest female duo, KIN4LIFE.  Purchase on DVD or watch on demand now!  

VISIT MALEILLUSIONISTTHEFILM.COM.