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COB to hold Sidney Poitier Film Festival for second year

His acting roles have run the gamut from the debonair doctor turned dinner guest to the tenacious FBI agent on the trail of a vicious killer, but Sidney Poitier’s mark of distinction extends far beyond the trailblazing roles he played as a black actor on the silver screen.

A talented artist, visionary and humanitarian, Sidney Poitier’s classic characters will be brought to life once again this week as The College of The Bahamas and the School of English Studies host a film festival in his honor for the second consecutive year.

The Sidney Poitier Film Festival will be held February 24-27 at The College’s Performing Arts Centre.

Poitier has been widely recognized not only for his ground-breaking contributions to the arts, but because many of his roles challenged pre-conceived notions about race, class and socio-economic status.

Appearing in more than 50 films, Poitier–who grew up in Cat Island–set for himself standards of performance that were viewed as impossible for black actors at the time. Among his most distinguished achievements is an Academy Award win in 1963 for his lead role in the film”Lilies of the Field.”

Creator and organizer of the 2011 Sidney Poitier Film Festival, Dr. Ian Strachan, Associate Professor in the School of English Studies, believes that Poitier’s legacy should be preserved for future generations. The festival is a key means of achieving that goal. Last year, The College also hosted the Sidney Poitier International Conference that provided a platform for scholars and film enthusiasts to explore and debate Poitier’s achievements, contributions and legacy.

“This year’s film festival will be an opportunity for Bahamians of various age groups and walks of life to share in his legacy, a legacy, which he has left to the entire world,”said Dr. Strachan.

The classic Sidney Poitier films being shown this week are free to the public and date back to the start of his career. They include”No Way Out”, which was banned in The Bahamas;”A Band of Angels”, in which Poitier starred alongside Clarke Gable;”Porgy and Bess”, his one film with Dorothy Dandridge, and”The Defiant Ones.”

According to Dr. Strachan, the film festival-which he hopes will be an annual event-will broaden its scope of artists and offerings in the future.

“In future festivals, we envision broadening the selection of films to include works by other black and Bahamian artists,”he said.

“We also want to continue the tradition of hosting academic discussions that explore cinema of the black experience and therefore we’re considering hosting a bi-annual conference. Last year’s conference proved very successful.”

The College is committed to supporting the development of the arts and facilitating experiences for intellectual and cultural exploration and empowerment. As it continues to develop academic programs in response to national needs, the institution recently launched two minor programs-one in Music and the other in Film and Drama Studies-as a means of enriching the student experience and cultivating a commitment to the arts.

“The minor in Film and Drama Studies, is promoting film as a viable career choice for talented, capable and culturally aware students,”said Dr. Marjorie Brooks-Jones, Chair, School of English Studies.

“[Students]can write their own scripts, direct and produce films, documentaries or dramas. Many students have enjoyed success in cultural production, created employment opportunities and a great deal of satisfaction knowing they have created something worthwhile,”she added.

The Sidney Poitier Film Festival began on Thursday at 4 p.m. despite The College’s closure for the state-recognized memorial service for the late Dr. Keva M. Bethel, C.M.G.

For more information, please visit http://poitierfestival.yolasite.com/http://poitierfestival.yolasite.com/or e-mail istrachan@cob.edu.bs.

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