Docutah brings the soul to new location with classic cars, a gospel choir and free drive-in movie

Composite photo, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —Dixie State University’s Docutah International Documentary Film Festival, which runs Sept. 3-8, has a new venue this year: the Red Cliffs theater complex at the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George.

According to a media release from Docutah, the new location will provide opportunities for some fun twists on the festival, one of which will be a free classic car show, gospel choir performance and accompanying drive-in movie screening of “How They Got Over” on Tuesday evening.

The entire evening is free for everyone and will start at 6:30 p.m. with a classic car show as audience members park their cars in preparation for the .  At 7 p.m., the Victory Missionary Baptist Church choir out of Las Vegas, Nevada, will perform.

“We are thrilled to have this great gospel choir join us at the ninth season of DOCUTAH and add a very special tribute to Aretha Franklin,” Docutah marketing and PR director Della Lowe said in the media release.

Each year, we want to give back to our community, which gives us so much love, something of value and something uplifting. By adding a wonderful music performance in advance of the screening of this iconic documentary, ‘How They Got Over,’ which traces the history of gospel quartets and the path to rock and roll, we feel that we are honoring the community, our Festival and the film.

The film will begin once the sun disappears to allow for optimal viewing.  Audio for the film will be broadcast to cars via an FM channel. It is suggested that attendees bring a chair or two if they wish to sit outside their cars.

“How They Got Over” is a feature-length documentary about the African-American quartets who traveled the back roads of the Deep South in the 1930s and ’40s creating a hard gospel sound and vigorous performing style that foreshadowed doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul and Motown.

Watching the Dixie Hummingbirds, Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Soul Stirrers, Fairfield Four, Sensational Nightingales, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Highway QCs and more, it becomes clear that legendary musicians like James Brown got their ideas from the impressive, dramatic performances of African-American gospel quartets that played in churches, on local radio stations and later, at concert halls starting in the 1930s.

The documentary is about the evolution of these quartets and illustrates how this often originally religious harmony singing developed into more secular songs with instruments, multiple vocalists, passion and sold-out shows. Their stories and those of other genre lovers are augmented by seldom-seen archival concert footage.

For anyone who can’t make it Tuesday night, there will be a second screening of the film Friday at 7:10 p.m. at Red Cliffs 4.

2018 Docutah International Documentary Film Festival

This year’s festival runs from Sept. 3-8 and presents 68 films from 14 countries, four DOCTalk presentations and six special events. Information about all the films included in this year’s festival, special events and ticketing may be found at the Docutah website.

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