Paper Line, the new all-Black cast short film from writer-director Ryan Watson (The Ivory League: Confessions of a Black Faculty, which won Best Florida Film at the 2021 Sunscreen Film Festival), features an inside look at the intense personal bonds and proud values of Black Greek culture through the lens of explosive martial-arts action. African-American sororities and fraternities have been at the cornerstone of college life for more than 100 years. This film tells a story of the Black Greek experience through a reimagination of the initiation process, deflating the insulting subtext of the “paper line” (a fraternity class that doesn’t undergo the potentially traumatic hazing of previous eras) evolving into a new context altogether. This secret fraternity of Black martial artists live by a strict code of discipline, truth, service to the community and non-violent conflict resolution — unless provoked.
Filming this exciting new project primarily in Tampa Bay, Watson took inspiration from a broad catalog of influences, most significantly from Civil-Rights-era Black activist groups like the Black Panthers. The Panthers and others regularly held organized martial arts training as part of their plan to inspire their community and defend their neighborhoods from the violence created by gangs and drugs from within, and violence by anti-Black aggression from the outside.
Doors open at 2:00pm, and this family-friendly (PG-13 equivalent) special event will begin with a LIVE martial arts demonstration by some of the film’s cast at 3:00pm. The first 150 patrons will also receive FREE popcorn and soda. Following the screening, Paper Line writer/director Ryan Watson and his team will discuss the making of the film and answer audience questions.
Admission is free, but you must make reservations. For more information, please go to tampatheatre.org.