The project was supported by a program designed to create space for BIPOC filmmakers.
Bernard Oliver loves boxing and filmmaking. He combined both of those passions to create his documentary short Lost in the Sauce: The Kalvin Henderson Story, which will be screened at the Fayetteville Film Fest Saturday.
The project has been three years in the making and Oliver says he really hit his stride four months ago. Having the festival as a deadline helped him complete the film and now he’s excited to share it with his mentors and the documentary’s subjects.
“To see their reaction is such a blessing to me because I worked so hard on this documentary,” he says. “I put my soul into it.”
The film looks at the challenges and triumphs faced by championship prize fighter Kalvin “Hot Sauce” Henderson. Oliver wanted to profile Henderson, whom he met through boxing and considers family, because he says many people don’t understand what these athletes go through. Henderson is more than a boxer, Oliver says. He’s also a father and brother who’s struggled with depression and gaining 40 pounds.
“COVID really, really, really destroyed a lot of things that were going on in his life,” he says. “To see the perseverance and the things that he’s gone through, I had to be able to tell the story.”
Bringing this story to life was made possible in part by the Fayetteville Film Fest Micheaux Award and Film Lab program, which was launched last year. Named for Oscar Micheaux, a founding father of American Black cinema, the program provides funding and workshop opportunities to BIPOC filmmakers.
“The goal was ultimately for the Fayetteville Film Festival to make space for filmmakers of color in response to the social justice movements in 2020,” says Airic Hughes, festival board member and program chairman.
The pandemic has limited the program’s in-person training component, but Hughes says they’ve established a partnership with Creative Arkansas Community Hub & Exchange (CACHE) to provide training and media support in the future.
The Micheaux Award distributes up to $4,000 in two cycles per year, with no single application receiving more than $1,500. The Winter 2021 Cycle application period opens Nov. 15 and closes Dec. 31, 2021. Recipients will be announced Mar. 1, 2022.
As one of the inaugural award recipients, Oliver received $500 for his project, which he says helped immensely because it’s difficult to be a filmmaker with no backing. Oliver is also grateful for the honor as a filmmaker of color.
“It’s really big to me that it’s for Black filmmakers and people of color,” he says. “It’s a huge thing to me because we’re not looked at like everybody else.”
The 13th annual Fayetteville Film Fest is Nov. 11-13 and includes in-person and virtual screening options. A happy hour recognizing Micheaux Award and Film Lab winners begins at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Pryor Center on the Fayetteville Square.
Oliver’s film can be viewed during a screening of documentary shorts at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 13. Tickets and more information are available at www.fayettevillefilmfest.org.
For more of Oliver’s work, you can visit his YouTube channel.