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Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase

Blackhouse L.A. Film Festival Dinner Honors Debra Martin Chase at a Gala Dinner with Mike Epps, Jesse Williams, Vivica Fox and Many More Hollywood VIPs


The Blackhouse Foundation celebrated the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival by holding a dinner June 18 in honor of Debra Martin Chase, producer of “The Princess Diaries,” “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” “Lemonade Mouth,” “The Cheetah Girls,” the much-anticipated “Sparkle,” and many more films. Blackhouse works with film festivals to increase exposure and opportunities for black filmmakers.  

Staged at the art-filled offices of Creative Artists Agency in Century City, the dinner drew directors, producers and other Hollywod VIPs, among them Mike Epps, who stars in “Sparkle,” Mechelle Epps, Jesse Williams of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Vivica Fox of “Kill Bill,” Alexis Biedel of “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Chelsea Kane of “Jonas,” Lynn Whitfield of “The Josephine Baker Story,” Salli Richardson Whitfield of “Eureka,” Shaun Robinson of “Access Hollywood,” and others.

Following a cocktail reception, the CAA Foundation’s Ryan Tarpley, a Blackhouse board member, welcomed guests, after which the foundation’s board chair Brickson Diamond introduced the night’s honoree. “(Blackhouse) is about creating a true cross-cultural experience on the screen in America,” Diamond said, “and no one has done a better job of bringing these kinds of stories to life, in representation of women, in people of color and in the young, than Debra Martin Chase.”

He then presented Martin Chase with a Catherine Opie photograph, “Crenshaw High School Marching Band,” from an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, followed by what he called a “gift of song,” i.e., a performance by Goapele.

Goapele sang three songs, but not before thanking Martin Chase for what she called “a dream come true,” her role in the new version of “Sparkle,” which she said had already been part of her life and an inspiration growing up. The new film, which stars Whitney Houston, is set for release in August.

For her mini-concert, Goapele chose “Darker Side of the Moon,” “Closer” and one of her favorites since age ten, “by another one of the late great women we lost,” she said, “At Last,” by Etta James.

Also among guests were “Lemonade Mouth” director Patricia Riggen, “High School Musical” director Kenny Ortega, choreographer Fatima Robinson, LAMCA contemporary art curator Franklin Sirmans and producers Datari Turner, Christine Sacani, Inuka Bacote, Quentin Warren and Codie Elaine Brooks, representing the LA Film Festival.

This year’s LA Film Festival offerings include 16 feature films, five shorts and one music video featuring black directors, subjects and/or cast members. Some are “Luv,” starring Common, “The Iran Job,” “Oversimplification of Her Beauty,” “’Question Bridge: Black Males” and “Middle of Nowhere.” For more information about these films, click here. The Festival continues through June 24.

In previous years, Blackhouse has held dinners honoring Jesse Williams, Terrence Howard, Joy Bryant and Rashida Jones.

Top photo: Debra Martin Chase with Blackhouse chair Brickson Diamond, left, and board member Ryan Tarpley of CAA at the Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase (photo: Alberto Rodriguez/ Getty Images, courtesy of Blackhouse)

Second photo: Mike Epps and Mechelle Epps at the Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase (That’s Jesse Williams in the background, opposite)

Third photo: Goapele sang three songs at the Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase

Fourth photo: Vivica Fox of “Kill Bill” at the Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase 



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Blackhouse LA Film Festival Dinner Honoring Debra Martin Chase

Published June 19, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA