'Black Beach/White Beach' film documents racial disparities during biker weeks

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Black Panther, the latest release from Marvel Studios, is on pace to set records at the box office. But while superhero film fans across the nation flock to theaters during opening weekend, there's also buzz building about a documentary that premiered Friday at Durham's Hayti Film Festival.

"And we still had a packed house," said Ricky Kelly, director of "Black Beach/White Beach." "I was like, wow, that was an achievement in itself because I thought no one's gonna be here. Everybody's going to see Black Panther!"

He's happy about the crowd that filled almost every seat inside Hayti's performance space. They watched Kelly on screen explaining to viewers: "There's a story here that really needs to be told. Myrtle Beach is just a microcosm of what's going on in the United States, as far as racial injustice and mistreatment by police. "

Kelly, a motorcycle enthusiast who lives in Durham, decided to make his film after years spent attending the Memorial Day biker festivals in the Myrtle Beach area. He noticed more police patrolling the predominately African-American event than the one held the following weekend, which attracts a mostly white crowd.

But first, he had to learn more about filmmaking. Kelly's a plumber, who sold his bike to raise money for the equipment used to shoot his documentary.

"My wife and took classes at the Duke Documentary center and other places. We tried on our own to edit it," Kelly said, adding that he secured additional help from professionals and the Southern Documentary Fund to complete the film. His wife Cherie is the producer of the documentary.

Their hard work on the documentary brought them lots of applause as the credits rolled Friday night.

"Words can't explain how it feels to get that type of accolades from your community," Kelly said. "When people love your labor of love and respect what you're doing. Then all the people who were there, who supported us, gave us money and encouraged us these last three years, it's overwhelming!"

Cherie Kelly told ABC11 "Now that he was able to put that vision on camera and other people could see it, (I knew) that they would also feel his passion for what this story was all about."

While they work on the distribution of their first documentary, she's planning their next one.

"The history of chitlins, the reason why we have chitlins, and why it's a part of our culture today. It will also show why most people don't eat chitlins," she said with a smile.

You can see "Black Beach/White Beach" at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, Sunday at 5 p.m.

The filmmakers have information about their documentary on their Facebook page.
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