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A so-called carnival “Jig Show" innovates popular music and theatre, and gives birth to entertainment icons. Read more

Durham, NC Documentary
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Funding Unsuccessful

This project's funding goal was not reached on August 22, 2012.

A so-called carnival “Jig Show" innovates popular music and theatre, and gives birth to entertainment icons.

Durham, NC Documentary
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About this project

DEAR HARLEM IN HAVANA FRIENDS: Thank you all for your generous support for the HARLEM IN HAVANA documentary film project that is currently underway. Unfortunately, we may not reach our campaign goals this time around, however, we are still planning to move ahead with film production in 2012. Also, you can still get cool Harlem in Havana rewards when you donate to the project, visit http://www.harleminhavana.com/HarleminHavana/Donate.html to learn more.

Leon Claxton's HARLEM IN HAVANA, a documentary film by Leslie Cunningham

DETAILS:  I am seeking funding assistance towards the production of Leon Claxton's HARLEM IN HAVANAa feature documentary film by my production company, TRIBES Entertainment slated for completion in late 2013. Your funds will be used towards travel to key locations, including Atlanta and Saskatoon where we will conduct final research, on-camera interviews and shoot b-roll. In addition, a portion of your funds will be used towards the completion of original music for the film. Anyone can fund the film from $1 and up!  

Thank you for your support!

Visit theHARLEM IN HAVANA WEBSITE to learn more. 

Read about the film project in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix (Jan 2012): http://lesliecunninghampro.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/star-article-192012.jpg

Get the special Harlem in Havana Collector's Magazine!

Special Harlem in Havana Collector's Magazine
Special Harlem in Havana Collector's Magazine
GET COOL FUNDER REWARDS!

Commemorative T-Shirts!

Harlem in Havana Commemorative Postcard set!

LEON CLAXTON'S HARLEM IN HAVANA, a documentary film by Leslie Cunningham

FILM DESCRIPTION:

Welcome to the greatestcarnival stage show in North American history, HARLEM IN HAVANA, a showcase of black and latin dancers, musicians, burlesque performers, cabaret, and comedians- a so-called 20th century “Jig Show”- that innovated music and theatre and gave birth to the entertainment icons that would one day write American pop culture during some of the nation’s most socially turbulent years. 

In a new 90 minute documentary film, Leon Claxton’s HARLEM IN HAVANA, filmmaker Leslie Cunningham pays tribute to her grandfather’s legacy, a top road show producer, pop culture pioneer, and one the countries first black millionaires. Offering a never-before-told story that charges into the birth and rise of this monumental show and it’s visionary leader, Leon Claxton’s HARLEM IN HAVANA shines an essential light on the carnival stage and Claxton’s groundbreaking “brown-skinned” revue to unearth another root in the history of North American popular culture and entertainment.

The film chronicles the enormous popularity of the traveling “brown-skinned” carnival sideshow which spanned four decades -1930s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Legends like Chuck Berry, Redd Foxx, Rufus Thomas and Dinah Washington wowed audiences (as teenagers and young men and women) on the Harlem in Havana show. Some of the most beautiful brown-skinned burlesque dancers hypnotized audiences just a tent over from Sally Rand, Gypsy Rose Lee and Elvis Presley, who loved it so much, he encouraged his audiences to go there. Merceditas Valdes offered rituals to a Batá beat there, while Joni Mitchell honored the show in her song lyrics, "There’s a band that plays so snaky, you can’t help how you feel...”. For the hundreds of ‘colored’ dancers, musicians, and comedians who performed there for decades, it was the “best gig in the world” and for those who, still today, remember Harlem in Havana, it will forever be the greatest carnival stage show in North American history.

Harlem in Havana provided a platform for re-appropriating racist stereotypes normalized in the entertainment industry, as shows once performed in black-face put the outmoded tool aside and used the show’s prominence to set new industry standards. In the end, Harlem in Havana creator and producer, Leon Dunkins Claxton, Sr., achieved incredible success and went on to enjoy a good deal of wealth and social distinction as a pillar of the Tampa business association and philanthropist in his local community, in spite of the immeasurable odds against which he contended as a self-made, black entrepreneur. 

Labeled a “jig show” by competitors, Harlem in Havana was often met by angry crowds throwing rocks and bottles as coach car 66 pulled into deep southern towns. Yet, like the high speed trains it traveled on for more than thirty years, the greatest carnival stage revue in North American history was unstoppable. 

Touring company and training ground for the future heavyweights of Soul/R&B that would inspire Rock and Roll, a political trigger that rose above the segregated stage to achieve mainstream and international recognition and lead in the entertainment industry, and overall theatrical tour de force, heed the cry of Leon Claxton himself and “Step right up folks, it’s HARLEM IN HAVANA time”!

Please visit http://www.harleminhavana.com to learn more. 

TRIBES ENTERTAINMENT FILMS
TRIBES ENTERTAINMENT FILMS

FAQ

  • The film will be distributed to festivals in North America (Sundance; Chicago International; Miami International; Edmonton International) with a special focus on documentary festivals (Fullframe, Silver Docs, International Documentary) and African American and latino festivals (UrbanWorld; American Black; New York International Latino). Receptions will be planned at festivals in the U.S. featuring live entertainment and an open conversation with the filmmakers.

    I will be pursuing broadcast of the film on PBS, specifically the national AfroPop;Independent Lens and POV series. I will also be pursuing self-distribution of the film on DVD for purchase, rental and video-on-demand. I will pursue hiring a reputable distribution service company.

    This film is necessary for the education market, being applicable to studies inAmerican Historical Anthropology, African American History, Latin American History, African American and Afro-Cuban Music History. As well, a wide network of African American and Latin cultural and historical organizations would be interested in screening and purchasing the film. The film’s outreach efforts will also consist of partnerships with state chapters of the National Showmen’s Associations; local chapters of the National Association of the Advancement for Colored People; National Council of La Raza, public television stations, local newspapers and public library systems.

    The film’s campaign is will be supported by a website, a four-color poster, commemorative postcards, t-shirts, and national print and radio advertising.

    Last updated:
  • All film funds are currently being managed by TRIBES Entertainment. We will be applying to the Southern Documentary Fund, a reputable fiscal sponsor in Durham, North Carolina, to ensure the film project maintains legal and fiduciary responsibility. We will learn the results of fiscal sponsorship in July 2012.

    Last updated:

Rewards

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more
    About $1.00 USD

    0 backers

    $1-$5 Donate at this level and I'll give you a big SHOUT OUT on facebook.com/harleminhavana so everyone will know how awesome you are for helping to make this film project a reality.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $6 or more
    About $6 USD

    0 backers

    $6-10 - Get "Under a Memphis Sky"! Donate at this level and I'll give you a facebook shout out and list your name on harleminhavana.com. PLUS, you will receive the new song created just for the film, "UNDER A MEMPHIS SKY", via digital download.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $11 or more
    About $11 USD

    0 backers

    $11-25 Okay, you are too awesome if you donate at this level. Not only will I give you the above rewards, you'll also get a really cool set of Harlem In Havana COMMEMORATIVE POSTCARDS, my special "thank you" for helping the project (see postcards to left)!

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $26 or more
    About $26 USD

    0 backers

    $26-$50 Wow! Donate at this level and you are going way passed awesome. Not only will you get the above rewards, you'll also get a HARLEM IN HAVANA T-SHIRT, so everyone will know how cool and in-style you are (see t-shirt to left)!

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $51 or more
    About $51 USD

    0 backers

    $51-$99 - Get the Collector's Magazine! You are going to make me cry for being so COOL if you donate at this level! You will get all the above rewards AND a copy of the HARLEM IN HAVANA SHOWGIRLS COLLECTOR'S MAGAZINE (see magazine cover to left)!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more
    About $100 USD

    1 backer

    $100-$499 There is a special place in my heart for you if you donate at this level. You will get all the above rewards and when the DVD of the film is released, I'll send you a PERSONALLY SIGNED COPY with a special "thank you" note signed by all the producers for helping to make this film a reality!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more
    About $500 USD

    0 backers

    $500-$999 Okay, you are the BOMB! Donate at this level and get all the above rewards, a personal "thank you" call from me, PLUS YOUR NAME IN THE FILM'S CLOSING CREDITS under Thank Yous for helping to make this film BLOW-UP!

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,000 or more
    About $1,000 USD

    0 backers

    $1,000-1,900 HOLY COW! I've got to meet you, one of the coolest people on this planet! Donate at this level and get all the above rewards, PLUS get a PERSONAL INVITE TO THE PUBLIC PREMIER and the filmmaker's AFTER PARTY!

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $2,000 or more
    About $2,000 USD

    0 backers

    $2,000+ NOW WE ARE TALKING! You are an official ASSOCIATE PRODUCER of this film! You are getting all the above rewards, PLUS your NAME WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE OPENING CREDITS of the film as an Associate Producer.

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Funding period

- (60 days)