Memphis filmmaker Emmanuel Amido thought he knew what kind of documentary he was making when he trained his camera on an old inner-city neighborhood in South Memphis. Orange Mound was eaten up with blight and had a bad reputation for crime so the film would, of course, be about drugs and violence. But the more research Amido did, the more difficult it became for him to make the story he was uncovering mesh with the story he thought he was prepared to tell. Since Orange Mound, Tennessee: America's Community screened at the Indie Memphis Film Festival and was honored with the annual Soul of Southern Film Award, Amido has had an opportunity to watch audience members go through a similar awakening.
"This was my first no-budget project. I made a lot of mistakes and didn't know what to expect," Amido says. "At first, I didn't know if I even wanted to take it to festivals. I thought I'd maybe just show it to my friends."
What the documentarian has since discovered is that many lifelong Memphians were unaware of Orange Mound's long and unusual history as a subdivision built by African Americans for African Americans. And like the filmmaker, they weren't aware of the traditions or the serious commitments being made to stave off decay and its attendant problems.
Memphians will have two more opportunities to check out Amido's work when Orange Mound, Tennessee screens at the Malco Paradiso on Tuesday, January 7th, at 7 p.m. and then again at Studio on the Square on Wednesday, January 15th.
Amido is currently working on his next project, a history of church segregation in Memphis and the U.S.
Orange Mound, Tennessee: America's Community at Malco's Paradiso theater Tuesday, January 7th, 7 p.m.; at Studio on the Square on Wednesday, January 15th, 7 p.m. For ticket information, go to amidoproductions.com.