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JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s HARLEM IN HAVANA- Preserving An American Entertainment Legacy

HARLEM IN HAVANA flier 2013 - 1

PRLogOct. 10, 2014DURHAM, N.C.The last remaining of the great entertainers from one of America’s most successful traveling shows are finally telling their stories in JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, the forthcoming documentary film from producer/director Leslie Cunningham.

Cunningham’s compelling new film delves into the legend and truth behind Leon Claxton’s epic stage revue, Harlem in Havana- a so-called ‘colored jig show’ that helped launch the careers of entertainment heavyweights Chuck Berry, Rufus Thomas, Redd Foxx, Fontella Bass and Merceditas Valdes. One of the leading attractions on the world’s largest carnival midway in the 1930‘s, 40s, 50s and 60s, Harlem in Havana had profound impact on American entertainment and popular culture in ways that still exist today.

 

 

Part of a larger work known as the Harlem in Havana Project, Leslie Cunningham (Leon Claxton’s granddaughter) is working to archive this explosive chapter in American entertainment through a diversity of mediums including the film, a photography book and traveling photography exhibit and harleminhavana.com, the project’s official website.

“The carnival stage is often overlooked when recalling the history of black and latin entertainers and their impact on American popular culture,” says filmmaker Leslie Cunningham. “This is a never-before-told story of a little-known legacy that will enrich the whole of our cultural knowledge…We are engaged in the necessary work of cultural preservation. If we don’t talk to these entertainers now and mediate the telling of this story, the history will die with their memories and their generation.” READ MORE.

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Published by: Leslie Cunningham

A master storyteller with a journalistic background, Leslie Cunningham is an artist, writer, filmmaker, collaborator and creator of TRIBES Magazine. Driven by a passion for storytelling, Leslie is a graduate of the Documentary Arts Program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. She has directed, produced and collaborated on a collection of engaging documentary films and short video for public broadcast and film festivals. Leslie’s debut documentary film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl (2012), was chosen for Massimadi festival of Africa (2016), Gender Reel film festival (2014), The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (2012), and Atlanta’s Out On Film (2012). Leslie is currently working on her second feature, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, which was selected for the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Program. Leslie was also a recipient of the 2014 ITVS Diversity Development Fund and a fellow of the 2015 Cucalorus Filmmaker Residency Program. Owner of TRIBES Entertainment, a boutique digital marketing company in Durham, NC, Leslie brings a wealth of industry knowledge to her client work. She has worked tirelessly on several worthy projects to help raise money for local non-profits and is committed to mentoring young emerging artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs. Email Leslie at lesliecunninghampro@gmail.com.

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