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Two years ago this month an idea was born. At that time, I was Executive Director of the Nashville Independent Film Festival and in the midst of a major rebuilding campaign for the organization. Searching for ways to give the festival a new identity while at the same time reaching out to other organizations in the region, I set up a series of meetings with directors of other arts and media organizations to try and find some common ground.

One such organization was the First Amendment Center headquartered in Nashville Tennessee. Executive Director Ken Paulson had established a series of lectures and performances with musicians who have established a history of creating music, which if not for the first amendment, probably not have found a national voice. (You can look on their website and learn more about this series at www.freedomforum.org )

Over lunch one afternoon I proposed to Ken that our respective organizations form a partnership and create an award for those film makers, producers, directors and actors who have fought the censors and prevailed to present a body of work that either supported First Amendment issues or benefited by it's existence. Thus in June of 1998 was born the "Freedom In Film Award" presented by The First Amendment Center and The Nashville Independent Film Festival.

The first year's recipient was Charles Burnett, an outstanding African/American filmmaker whose portrayals of blacks in the American urban environment are some of the most compelling and authentic portraits of African/American life ever presented on the big screen. Films like "Killer of Sheep" have been a mainstay of the American underground

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 17 - September 1690
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