“Racial Taboo,” a documentary film that features many North Carolinians, was premiered earlier last month at Wilmington’s City Stage Theater. The site was significant; City Stage is a historically segregated theater built in 1914 in a building that had its cornerstone laid six months after the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898.
Comedians Kyle Grooms, who is featured in the film, and Dustin Chafin opened the Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 screenings with stand-up. Panel discussions featuring local dignitaries and cast members were held post-screenings.
“Racial Taboo” looks at why Americans find it difficult to talk about race and how that can be changed.
A mostly black audience attended the first screening. The crowd was racially mixed at the second showing. Organizers say both nights saw very spirited audience discussions. The panel on the first night consisted of the Mayor Bill Saffo, New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David, the local Republican and Democratic party chairs and two area NAACP presidents. The second night’s panel included members of the cast and the evening’s comedians.
“We laughed together, watched a movie together and talked with each other – even expressing our hurt on this subject. The high attendance on both nights combined with participation by local officials … points to broad community support for this film and the need to talk about this subject,” said Brian Grimm, the film’s director.
Partially shot in Wilmington, the film is Grimm’s attempt to finally break the ice.
“The subject of race in America is a very serious matter. However, what we have been doing for the past 150 years has not brought the black and white communities closer together,” he said. “We took a significant risk and used nationally-known stand-up comedians from New York City to change that dynamic at the premiere of Racial Taboo.This approach certainly got people talking. After all, comedy would not be funny without an element of truth.”
The film’s trailer can be viewed at www.RacialTaboo.com.