Urban Film Festival kicks off tonight at Shaker Square Theaters, showcasing a truly local production

SHAKER HTS. — There couldn’t be a more fitting place for Cleveland-based indie movie production company, HWIC Filmworks, to premiere its latest feature film than the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival. “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote,” a film based on the urban fiction novel of the same name by Cleveland Heights author Stella Hall, will be featured in the Spotlight Section of the festival, hosted April 18-20 at the Shaker Square Cinemas. The feature-length film will be shown at 7:15 p.m. Saturday (April 20), with an overflow screening already scheduled for 9:15 p.m. as well. With the exception of the theme song by Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees Public Enemy, it’s pretty much an all-local production. HWIC Filmworks co-owners and cousins, John Delserone and David C. Snyder, have Cleveland roots and are looking for opportunities to feature films that capture the essence of inner-city Cleveland life. Held at the Shaker Square Cinemas, the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival showcases groundbreaking short and feature films that depict the African-American experience and provides a platform for emerging and established talented visionaries in the filmmaking industry. “This is an amazing opportunity, not only for us, but for Cleveland talent as a whole, to be recognized on a local and international stage,” said executive producer John Delserone, who lives in University Heights. Delserone and Snyder film Public Enemy’s music videos, which is how they managed to not only get an original song out of the group, but also to have Chuck D. appear in the film. Their production company was filming a play, “Bridge of No Return,” also written by local author, playwright and Cleveland Heights High graduate Hall. Impressed with each other’s work, Hall gave Delserone a copy of the novel upon which the movie is based. “I gave it to my cousin and he read it and said, ‘I could make a great movie out of this,'” Delserone recalled of Snyder’s reaction. They started filming in mid-September, and with the exception of the Thanksgiving holiday, continued until early December. The first cut of the movies came in at 2 hours, 13 minutes, and has since been edited down to 92 minutes. Aside from the star, Phillia Thomas of Cleveland, other local talent in the cast includes local rapper Ray Jr., also a Heights grad, and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones, as the school principal at East Tech High School in Cleveland. Another Heights grad, Derek “DJ Bigg Fattz” Johnson, serves as the music supervisor for the film. “We are extremely happy about what looks to be a dynamic year for Cleveland in the entertainment industry and for HWIC Filmworks as a company. Most people don’t think of Cleveland when they think of movies but we are working to change that.” “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” stars a majority of seasoned Cleveland actors in an emotionally charged urban drama about a good girl whose best friend is murdered just before graduation. She gets caught up with Ace, a local drug dealer that takes her deeper into the violent futility of the streets. The movie was filmed in and around the inner-city Cleveland area including CMHA’s Outhwaite Estates, Executive Lounge Club, Grown Ups Martini & Wine Bar, and Euclid Square Mall. A number of scenes take place outside of the old Big “Q” Furniture Store on E. 55th Street and Woodland Avenue. “It’s basically ‘guerrilla filmmaking,’ where we just go in and do it,” Delserone said, noting the film’s $4,000 budget. “There are no set hours, and it gives it a gritty quality.” In addition to the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, “Swing Lowe Sweet Chariote” will have an additional theatrical world premiere in late June and be released on DVD and VOD shortly thereafter. Article Source: http://www.cleveland.com/shaker-heights/index.ssf/2013/04/urban_film_festival_kicks_off.html


  1. I really enioyed Swing Lowe Sweet Chariot…it was a very good movie…one part of the movie was very funny to me.. When Chariot was caught by her grandmother having sex…and her grandma was like…he don’t have a condom on….and he ran down the stairs..and all u saw was her mother pearly whites…..the movie was great…hope to see another soon…also I was wondering if this movie is a true story?

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! The movie is not a true story; it’s based on a novel by Cleveland’s Own Stella. We adapted it from the book. More stuff coming soon!

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