Global documentary to feature Sunflower Festival

Global documentary to feature Sunflower Festival
Oscar nominee produces 13-episode film

CLARKSDALE “On the Road in America,” a 13-episode reality/documentary being produced by Oscar-nominee Jerome Gary and award-winning director Mary Lambert promises global exposure for Clarksdale’s Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Aug. 11-13.

“This project is very exciting,” commented Lambert and producer April Garcia on their advance trip to Clarksdale this week.

Meeting with Sunflower Association organizers and bluesman James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Lambert and Garcia want to know more about Clarksdale’s unique ethnic population as well as its famous blues history.

Expressing keen interest in Clarksdale’s mix of Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Chinese, African-American, and Anglo-Saxon cultures, they plan to film the pre-festival “Grits, Greens, and Barbecue” party Thursday night, August 10.

When the festival kicks off Friday, August 11, the 15-member crew will be recording live performances with special footage of Super Chikan performing on the main stage Saturday, Aug. 12.

According to Garcia, “On the Road” is following four young Arab men (Egyptian, Saudi, Jordanian, and Lebanese) across America in an RV with an American film crew.

Lambert, sister of U.S. Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (Democrat, Arkansas), says the series will view America through the eyes of young Muslims. Its aim is to bridge the gap between American and Arab cultures and foster cross-cultural exchanges.

She says it will chronicle evolving attitudes of the young Arab men, their changing relationships, the crew, and people they meet along the way.

Describing it as an emotional experience, Lambert says, “Its a merging of minds and hearts.”

“On the Road” begins in Washington D.C., and travels primarily to large cities including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and San Francisco.
However, Clarksdale’s reputation as the “Birthplace of the Blues” and the Sunflower Festival draw it here.

The final U.S. destination is a conference of Arab students in California where they will be joined by friends they have met.

The last episodes will take place in the Middle East including Beirut, Cairo,and Dubai.
The documentary will air on Middle East Broadcasting, the largest distributor in the Middle East, on consecutive nights during the religious observance of Ramadan.

Garcia says in the U.S. the CBS television show 60-Minutes and NPR have expressed interest in featuring the series.

Jerome Gary, the documentary producer was nominated for an Academy Award for Pumping Iron and directed the documentary Stripper. He produced The Gathering, the Ace Award-winning Laughs series on HBO and The Russians, an eight-hour series that won an Emmy and a Cine Golden Eagle.