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Slated for Indie Memphis showing, ‘United Front’ documentary picking up steam

“United Front: The People’s Convention 1991 Memphis” – showing Sunday (Oct. 23) at the Malco Studio On The Square theater as part of the Indie Memphis Film Festival line-up – has been selected for Television broadcast at the Black International Cinema 2022 in Berlin, Germany.

Produced in Memphis, the documentary is Chuck O’Bannon’s historical work of the 1991 Memphis People’s Convention, which led to the first African American elected to serve as mayor of Memphis. The Indie Memphis Film Festival 2022 showing is set for 1:20 p.m. at the Malco theatre at 2105 Court Ave.

The People’s Convention, held at the Mid-South Coliseum, was created to allow Memphis voters the opportunity to select a consensus candidate for mayor in the 1992 Memphis city election. African American candidates had historically been defeated in mayoral elections, a fact attributed to having too many Black candidates in the race and being forced into what eventually was ruled an illegal “run off” election.

In 1991, Memphis did not have a majority Black population of registered voters. The People’s Convention allowed each of the African-American candidates to present themselves to a delegation representing Memphis voting districts. A majority of the convention participants aligned with former Supt. of Memphis City Schools, Dr. Willie W. Herenton, who won a narrow victory over incumbent Richard C. Hackett.

Anniece Robinson (Photo: Tony Jones, INK!/Larry Walker/The New Tri-State Defender Archives)

“United Front” is the brainchild of Anniece Robinson, an executive producer of the film, along with executive producer Yosiah “Tripp” Morrow, head of Sixteen Bars Entertainment. Robinson realized “no one had ever told the story of the 30-year-old historical event and if we didn’t do it, future generations would never know what happened.”

Robinson, along with her husband, Arthur Robinson, the host of the long-running Memphis TV show, “The Rainbow Connection,” whose historical video footage is featured throughout the film, contacted veteran filmmaker O’Bannon, who took on the project as producer/director.

“(A)fter reading the script, I was compelled to make sure this historic story was preserved,” said O’Bannon, also director of Video Productions for the Memphis-based Kudzukian Network and co-host of Kudzukian’s long running podcast, Riffin’ On Jazz.

Rainbow Connection executive producer Arthur Robinson, with Dr. Willie W. Herenton, the People Convention’s choice for mayor. (Photo: Tony Jones, INK!/Larry Walker/The New Tri-State Defender Archives)

United Front officially premiered in Memphis in July of 2021 in Memphis. The documentary is scheduled for broadcast on the Alex-Open Channel Berlin in November and December 2022 and will also be streamed on the channel’s internet website.

The Black International Cinema Berlin Film Festival is celebrating its 37th year and has received the EFFE Label 2022-23 by the EFFE International Jury as one of Europe’s finest arts festivals. Founded by Chicago native, Professor Donald Muldrow Griffith, the annual event is now a broadcast competition that gives exposure to selected films throughout Europe and America.

Featured in the “United Front” documentary film are former Memphis City Councilman Shep Wilbun, State Rep. Barbara Cooper, Herenton (the longest-serving mayor in Memphis history), the Rev. Dr. Bill Adkins, statistician Del Gil, former Washington D.C. mayor Marian Barry, the late Judge W. Otis Higgs and historic footage from the 1991 Leadership Summit held by former Congressman Harold. E. Ford, along with several other participants in the 1991 convention.

(Tickets for the October 23rd Indie Memphis Film Festival showing of “United Front” are available at indiememphis.org. For more information, click here.)

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