The multimedia exhibition, Beirut, Philadelphia, is a survey of an ongoing transmedia project that RTVF Assistant Professor Eugene Martin has been working on since 2006 in North Philadelphia.
The show features 120 fine art photographic prints, 30 hours of film and video, and two completed documentary films.
In 2007, Martin received a commission to create an oral history of women in an area of North Philadelphia known to its residents as "Beirut." This name was coined during the time when Beirut, Lebanon, was on the nightly news during the war. After a two-week gun battle around 2000 the name Beirut began to be used. The area of Beirut, Philadelphia, is just three square blocks.
From 2006 to 2012, Martin got to know and work with residents and community members in this neighborhood. Three projects have now emerged from this work.
The first project was a theatrical play entitled, Shot!, which was co-conceived by Martin, Doug Wager, and Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon. The play went on to win the Kennedy Center National College Theater Award and was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in April 2010. Martin won two awards for Video Direction and Co-Conception from the Kennedy Center.
The second part of the project is a documentary film entitled, Beirut, Philadelphia, (50 mins, HD video and 35mm film, 2013) which will be screen as part of this exhibit. In the film, Martin follows two families that he had befriended.
The third part of the project is this multimedia exhibition, which combines still photographs, films, and oral histories to create Martin's interpretation of Beirut, Philadelphia.
Born in 1963, Martin is a filmmaker and photographer whose work looks intimately at issues of youth, the inner city, poverty, and social justice.
His debut short film, Cynthia's Window, was an official selection at the 1990 Berlin Film Festival.
Martin's debut narrative feature film, Two Plus One (starring Bill Sage), screened at the inaugural Slamdance Film Festival.
Edge City (starring Mark Webber), Martin's second narrative feature, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival.
In 2001, Diary of a City Priest (starring David Morse) was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival.
The Other America was featured as the Opening Night film at the 2004 Slamdance Film Festival.
Martin works fluidly between narrative and documentary forms, and often combines techniques from both in his feature film work.
His films have been screened internationally in more than 25 countries. His work has aired on national PBS, The Sundance Channel, and the BBC. His films have been screened at the Directors Guild of America, the National Gallery of Art, and at more than 100 film festivals internationally. Martin is a member of the Directors Guild of America.
Martin has exhibited his photographs in galleries and curated exhibitions in Philadelphia, and several of his photographs have been used as book covers for books on anthropology and poetry.
Major funders of Martin's work include The Independent Television Service (ITVS), The Philadelphia Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the American Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Sundance Documentary Fund, and Texas Filmmakers.