Paducah, Kentucky's Maiden Alley Cinema will feature B. Danielle Watkins's short film, Parallel the Documentary, as part of its Evening of Diversity series. Watkins speaks with Tracy Ross about the film and its origins at the first Cinema Systers Film Festival in 2016.
Parallel the Documentary, a short film by B. Danielle Watkins, "chronicles Watkins' real-time emotions during her stay at Paducah, Kentucky's historic African-American Hotel Metropolitan. She navigates the complexity of being celebrated as a black lesbian filmmaker while feeling the history of being shunned."
"We didn't intend to make the documentary as it was," Watkins begins. "When we came to Paducah [in 2016], it was the first year of the film festival. We were just documenting that it was the first year of the film festival, and we were coming. We didn't really realize what we were walking into until I got to Paducah, and we realized what Hotel Metropolitan really was. Then, we realized I was the only African American filmmaker in the festival the first year."
The significance of the inaugural film festival and the stay at Paducah's historic hotel was the primary inspiration for Parallel. "The very first moment Ms. Betty [Mrs. Betty Dobson, Director of Hotel Metropolitan] explained to us where we were...staying in there was beyond amazing," Watkins says.
"Especially knowing the deep history as a female African American woman because...you have this black woman who started this hotel for the very reason we were there, for performers to come to Paducah and showcase their art, whether it was music or anything else. All these years later, here I come to be the first in this particular festival and to still stay there. It fills you with a feeling that's almost indescribable because all the people who stayed there prior to me and the history of it was building up to the exact same thing that I came to do."
The driving emotion behind the creation of Parallel was "celebration more so than anything," Watkins says. "It's the understanding of being able to be in so many different communities at once and be able to celebrate the intersectionality of it all."
"People loved [the documentary]," Watkins continues. "People love the ability to relate to it. A lot of the things that I discuss, people think about, but they don't always say out loud, or they don't even understand it."
Parallel the Documentary will be presented in a special Evening of Diversity screening at Paducah's Maiden Alley Cinema on Saturday, February 29th at 7 p.m. A Q & A session with Watkins, Dobson, and others will follow. A short film by the OUT Paducah Youth Group will also be featured.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the theater. All ticket sales will be split evenly between Hotel Metropolitan and Cinema Systers Film Festival.
For more information on B. Danielle Watkins and her upcoming works, including a full-length documentary, short film, and two features, visit her website.