The BFI Flare Festival Is In Town And I Spoke To C.Fitz About Her Documentary Jewel's Catch One14:07:00
Good Afternoon Lovelies,
Over the weekend, the BFI Flare Festival began in London! We will be keeping you as up to date as possible on the blog, throughout the event, starting with this exciting exclusive interview with the creator of the documentary film, Jewel’s Catch One, C.Fitz.
Talking about the making of the film, her favourite moments and what we can look forward to in the future, the BFI Flare Festival better prepare itself for this amazing documentary…
Firstly, congratulations on the show being shown at BFI Flare Festival! How did it feel to be selected?
We are so honoured. You work hard on a film not knowing the outcome, so to be a part of BFI and BFI Flare has been such a great reward. I have to say as a filmmaker watching Jewel be honoured as far away as London with standing ovations (BFI) has been an incredible journey to witness. She has dedicated her life to others for over 4 decades and London's response has really touched her. We are excited to return for BFI Flare and really excited to work again with their incredible staff. They’re top notch.
Could you explain to those who may not know what the film is about - what the story is?
JEWEL'S CATCH ONE celebrates the legacy of a legendary Los Angeles nightclub, the Catch One, and the life-changing impact its owner, Jewel Thais-Williams, had on her community. She broke down racial and cultural barriers and built the oldest black-owned disco in America. Jewel’s story celebrates music, fashion, celebrities and activism that helped change the course of our country. One of the original “safe spaces” for disenfranchised communities, The Catch also served as a refuge for many during the AIDS crisis. As her club grew to become known as the unofficial “Studio 54 of the West Coast,” Jewel became a national role model for how to fight discrimination and serve the less fortunate as she fought tirelessly against racism, homophobia and hate for over 4 decades. Jewel built organizations such as The MINORITY AIDS PROJECT and RUE’s HOUSE (named after her wife, the 1st shelter for women with AIDS and their children in Los Angeles) and later in life started her own non-profit health & wellness clinic next door to the club called The Village Health Foundation, where she still works today (www.villagehealthfoundation.org). She is a legacy.
What was it like working on the film for the past six years? What was the most inspiring thing that happened during that time?
It was a long journey as most documentaries are. Nerve-racking in a sense, because you don't know how you will finish such a mammoth undertaking – to cover over 42 years, and you know you HAVE to finish so that this important story can be seen by others. It needed the 6 years in order to become the film it is today (story-wise) and what I hope is an unwritten textbook for our world. When someone has dedicated their life in order to make this amount of change it should be celebrated!
The most inspiring moments - there were two! One was Jewel's reaction to the first fine cut of the film. She cried, she laughed and I knew I had done my job (PLUS it was 7 hours shorter than the 1st rough cut!) The second inspirational moment solidified those feelings and it was the day after the PULSE tragedy in Orlando. Jewel was the Grand Marshal of the LA Pride Parade. I was on foot filming her in the lead car. This day, as you can imagine, was scary. I even thought Jewel should not ride (unprotected) in the car. I was nervous and I know her wife, Rue, was nervous, even though she rode with her by her side. As I filmed Jewel, I got goose-bumps. Everyone from every walk of life shouted out to Jewel: "Thank YOU for all you have done!... Thank YOU, Jewel. WE LOVE YOU!" This went on for miles & miles throughout the parade.
It was amazing to hear in massive numbers the gratitude of how grateful everyone was to Jewel for her work and dedication to fighting discrimination for over 4 decades. It truly made us all speechless! And I knew the film would be an important piece of her legacy and important for our future.
There are some incredible interviews in the film with the likes of Sharon Stone and more, was there something you found out that really interested you?
The interviews played an important story-telling role - not only about the club and Jewel but also the history of our culture and music. The film lays shape to how music, its artists and the black & LGBTQ communities grew up at Catch One. Sharon Stone and Madonna danced at Catch One because the music, scene and DJs were THAT good. The songs of Evelyn “Champagne” King, Thelma Houston and Madonna had direct, individual and unique links to Catch One. It is an amazing glimpse of history on so many levels.
Is there a scene that you are most proud of or one that you would like audiences to look out for? Why this one?
The AIDS CRISIS chapter. This whole chapter is frame by frame (name by name) designed. Jewel battled to keep the doors open as she also nursed many of her patrons inflicted with the disease...she was literally one of the few helping those in the black community.
The chapter on this may be dark and there have been many tears in our audiences, however, every frame is on purpose... I made the choice to not show any faces except for one patron that Jewel talks about.... this chapter is one of the most individually heart-wrenching to watch...I'm very proud to honour Jewel's work and all of those that passed through her doors and did not make it out of the 80's decade alive.
Finally, can you tell us anything about what you are both working on next?
a) Commercially - Recently I was approached by a commercial client, through my company Dancing Pictures, to use my documentary style to tell some local hero stories while cross-promoting their brand. We are honoured to tell more little or unknown important hero stories.
b) Feature Documentary: We are looking over some next possibilities.
c) Scripted: We have some people coming to us to turn this documentary into a scripted form which we have started writing, and some talk about a musical. So Jewel's legacy will potentially live on in many forms!
Jewel: Jewel just opened her new clinic at 4077 Pico Blvd in Los Angeles and is splitting her time between healing and going on the road educating folks about the film and their health.
Don’t miss the film at the BFI Flare Festival now lovelies!