Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Three Way Collision Hits Big Screen

Right Question and Wrong Answer Twists Lives of Couple

Sometimes a man and a woman have an understanding, only they understand.  But in most relationships, it’s a sure bet a woman dating a man will lose her composure, when condoms fall out of her boyfriend’s jacket and another woman leaves the man a seductive voice mail. Instinctively the woman becomes a detective and the man is certainly guilty as charged.
Photo courtesy of Julian Renner
In Julian Renner’s film “The Three Way,” which recently screened at the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza in Washington, DC, 20-something Tasha and Mike, a young couple makes life-changing decisions about their relationship. Throw in a secret pregnancy, a marriage proposal and infidelity and Renner has the perfect emotional gumbo that keeps viewers interested and glued to the screen. “I just started writing a movie about a guy who was cheating on his girlfriend and how he was going to keep it going and not get caught,” says Renner. 
Julian Renner & Maniko Barthelemy at the West End Cinema host of the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza
Tasha loves Mike and they share a cozy apartment, living like a married couple. Their lives seem quite predictable both work a decent job and on some level share the bills. You pull for the two to make it in the beginning because there are so many similarities and they honestly make a cute couple. “This is a movie you have to see from beginning to end otherwise you miss the love connection that could come between the two actors,” says Renner.

The ugliness that unravels after Tasha surprises Mike by coming home early to fix dinner pulls you into a world that’s a healthy balance of a soap opera and a reality show, starring people who are lot like you and me.  Tasha finds condoms in Mike’s work shirt, so she picks up the phone and calls her two most trusted friends. Mike counters Tasha’s plan with his own by calling a gay male co-worker to come over and explain the condoms drama to Tasha.
Film production photo courtesy of Julian Renner.
Shane Jacobsen (Sam) and Delance Minefee (Mike)
Everyone in this film learns a valuable lesson; never ask a piercing question about life and love, if you’re not really prepared to deal with the answer. 
Film production photo courtesy of Julian Renner.
 Sofia Rodriguez (Fiona) and Medina Senghore (Dee)
Here’s a link to the Web site for “The Three Way,” http://thethreewaymovie.com/THE_THREE_WAY_MOVIE/CAST_WAY_4.html and keep your eyes peeled for the film coming to a theater near you. Of course, don’t forget to like the Facebook page here, https://www.facebook.com/Threewaymovie, and leave a comment on the page for the cast and crew.
Sofia Rodriguez (Fiona), Maniko Barthelemy, Spencer Johnson (RIFE founder) and Karma Berry (Tasha)

You can e-mail your comments about this article directly to Maniko Barthelemy at NewsHeels@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Film Shows Gift as Burden and Blessing

Can you forgive someone who devalues you? Is your spouse a gift from God that you appreciate or marginalize? Is your talent more important than your gift? Film producer and director Harold Jackson III  poses and answers those conscious piercing questions in his latest film, The Gift.

The Gift clears the static and puts a microscope on the turbulent life of best-selling author, Ezekiel Anderson, who’s so successful he sees life through eyes wide shut. Anderson’s ambition to score the next big book deal clouds his judgment and puts him at a spiritual crossroads.

Through the escalating twists and turns as Anderson strives to reach for material stars, everyone sees the glitter and gold mask tarnish his foundation. His wife and marriage take a backseat as Anderson’s popularity grows.  A chance meeting with a fisherman points the author in the right direction but it may be too late. Perhaps appreciation for those who love us the most is the subliminal lesson in Jackson’s film.

Here’s a link to trailer for The Gift, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtZ_RGBvDHk.
Jackson is also the producer of Burn, a documentary that takes an in-depth and emotional look at a little known race riot in 1921. Here’s the link to the trailer for Burn.

Recently, in Washington, D.C. the third annual Reel Independent Film Extravaganza held at West End Cinema, rolled out the red carpet for Jackson and a host of independent film producers who beat the competition for a coveted opportunity to screen in the nation’s capitol. The Gift, The Three Way, and The Pharmacist, are a few of the short narrative films that made the cut. Over the next three days on this blog, we’ll bring you a short review of all three films and link you to the trailers. Hopefully, you’ll be able to watch one or all at a theater in your city. For more information about the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza, log on to http://www.reelindependentfilm.com/films.cfm.

(photo courtesy of Julian Renner)
Join us tomorrow for a look at The Three Way, a feature film written and directed by Julian Renner. It’s full of drama, comedy, and reality. Don’t assume anything by the title because your perception may be completely wrong.

Please e-mail your comments directly to Maniko Barthelemy at NewsHeels@gmail.com

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gay, Straight and Living in the Middle of the Debate

When voters across the country head to the polls November 6, Maryland residents will vote on something just as important and vital as selecting the president of the United States. What’s the definition of marriage? Is gay marriage a civil rights issue or something different? From politicians to activists, professional athletes, clergy, and entertainers, everyone has an opinion or the perfect answer to all the questions.  

In the coming weeks Marylanders will undoubtedly get hit with a flood of television, radio and Internet ads supporting and opposing the legalization same-sex marriage. But how does it fill to live your life in the middle of the reality that hides behind some traditional marriages? Reportedly there are nearly two million people married to someone who’s secretly gay.

In “I Thought It Was Forever,” a soon-to-be released documentary, seven people remove the convoluted opinion static that routinely arises and periodically results in shouting matches on both sides of legalizing same-sex marriage. The cast candidly reveals the emotional, mental, physical and sexual turmoil that forced them all to face a decision they’d avoided, some for more than 30 years. Below is an introduction to two cast members.

Photo courtesy of Melissa
Melissa, like many women, wants to know and treasure the feeling of peace, passion and protection that comes with a marriage. “Sometimes you don’t love someone forever,” says Melissa.  For years, her life was like an emotionally detached marathon full of potholes, every one bigger than the other. “He threw me so hard one day I hit the door and the hinges fell off,” says Melissa. She says the extreme and escalating physical violence she endured at the hands of her ex-husband was the result of him hiding a secret. “He kept it hidden for 20 years because he knew what my father had said,” says Melissa.  How did Melissa tell her two young daughters what was happening to their father and what his change meant for the whole family?

Photo courtesy of Marc
Marc is a father of four children and he’s comfortable as a gay man but for nearly 20 years he was not. “I struggled with what to do with all of those feelings and I was scared mostly of losing the woman I’d loved since I was 12,” says Marc. Marriage counseling, sex addiction therapy and holding out hope for the thoughts to “work themselves out” failed.  So how did Marc keep his secret affairs away from his family? When did he finally decide it was time to tell his wife? Are they friends today?

You can see the “I Thought It Was Forever” trailer, find out the answers more questions and meet the entire “I Thought It Was Forever” cast on the film’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Thought-It-Was-Forever/266635793379198.

Photo courtesy of Jeff Ray
“I Thought It Was Forever” is a Southern Belle Productions film, directed by Maniko Barthelemy and Lawrence Dortch. We invite you to leave a comment on this page or e-mail Maniko Barthelemy directly at NewsHeels@gmail.com.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Boxer Fights Past to Win Happiness

The world of boxing is a fiercely brutal, aggressive and competitive sport where more people often quit and never become a champion. Take one look at Anthony Suggs, Sr. and it’s a sure bet, dangerous is not the first word that comes to your mind. Some of his opponents may have a vastly different opinion. “I used to feel so sorry for my opponents because I’d beat them so badly in the ring and then want to hug them,” says Anthony Suggs, Sr., known to many as Tony “Da Beast” Suggs, Sr. 
Anthony Suggs, Sr. at a boxing gym in Maryland
(Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray)
What his opponents in the mid-to-late 80s didn’t know was the aggressive blows Suggs threw in the ring were camouflaging scars no one could see. “I grew up in tough conditions and my family was very dysfunctional,” says Suggs, Sr. During the mid-to-late ‘80s, Suggs, Sr. was a rising boxing star with trophies and belts piling up in his house. “I had my mind set on winning a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics,” says Suggs. 
photo courtesy of Anthony Suggs, Sr.
Within hours of his scheduled bout, sure to take him closer to the gold that year, the unimaginable dimmed the light on Suggs’ road to success. “When my daughter died I was very angry because I felt like God already knew how much I’d suffered as a kid and I couldn't understand why he’d want me to suffer as a man,” says Suggs, Sr.
photo courtesy of Anthony Suggs, Sr. 
His infant daughter, the new pride and joy of his life, died of sudden infant death syndrome. Her untimely death put Suggs on a personal and professional toxic roller coaster. The man many lauded for years, sadly, landed in an Alexandria, VA jail cell numerous times for selling drugs.  Ultimately, Suggs hit rock bottom as a crack addict. “I finally realized my arms were way too short to box with God,” says Suggs, Sr.
Anthony 'Da Beast" Suggs, Sr. outside of the Alexandria, VA County Jail
(Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray)
The Alexandria, Virginia Hall of Fame boxer is a legend in his community. Everyone from local politicians and ministers to inmates, family and friends admire Suggs’ tenacity and his road to redemption.  Nearly 25 years after coming within hours of his chance to bring home the gold, Suggs, Sr.’s athletic dream may have been deferred but his determination to live a clean and happy life is at its peak. These days, he walks the halls of the Alexandria County Jail, as a mentor and motivational speaker on a mission. “I think the worst thing you can do is tell yourself you can do the time because then you’ll definitely return,” says Suggs, Sr.
Poster still for "Out of the Ring; Still in the Fight"
His life story is the subject of “Out of the Ring; Still in the Fight,” a documentary that candidly puts a microscope on his success, struggles, sacrifice and setbacks. “I feel my story is strong and it will reach all of the people it’s supposed to reach. I’m not hiding anything,” says Suggs, Sr.

The film is currently in post-production and is being produced by Southern Belle Productions, a Washington, D.C. area independent film company. Maniko Barthelemy is the executive producer and CEO of Southern Belle Productions. For more information about the film and Anthony “Da Beast” Suggs, log on to the film’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/OutOfTheRingStillInTheFight.

We've included a short clip from the film for you to view.

Feel free to e-mail your comments about this article directly to Maniko Barthelemy at NewsHeels@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

We're away for a few weeks this month, doing some research and on-camera interviews in New Orleans for two films, as well as relaxing a bit with some unforgettable food and spectacular musicians. Here's a quick look at some of the articles we have coming up later this month.

An NFL player takes his skills from the field to the kitchen, all in an effort to leave a legacy for his children and grandchildren. On Newsheels.BlogSpot.com, we will introduce you to the player and his special recipe that may change the way you serve up your family favorite dishes.

Millions of women serving in the military have one thing in common that will horrify you and perhaps encourage millions of others to break their silence. A review of a bold documentary about what scars these women for life, is also coming up later this month on NewsHeels.BlogSpot.com.

How are you spending your vacation? Send your comments directly to Maniko Barthelemy at Newsheels@gmail.com.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Film Chronicles Crossfire of Civil Unrest & Civil Rights Movement

Just about every day, from small town American to densely populated communities all over the globe, whenever rejection, resentment and an overwhelming desire to rebel collide, the revolution gets televised.  In “Walls That Bleed,” filmmaker Michael Anthony immediately pulls viewers into a revolution, that emotionally weaves in and out of a violent race riot in a place rarely mentioned in the many books and specials that skim the surface of the reality and brutality of the Civil Rights Movement. “I don’t know why white people would want to kill Martin Luther King. Seems like you would have kept him alive because he was keeping people non-violent,” says James McNair.
We can all name at least one horrific attempt to end racial tension and abuse in places like Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana. But Anthony’s film, through a combination of black and white news footage, radio announcements, candid and emotional interviews with people like James McNair, puts a microscope on Greensboro, NC, 1969. “We got attacked by police,” says James McNair.  “Walls That Bleed” explains why racial tension exploded in Greensboro, resulting in 650 infantry National Guardsmen, local police and Vietnam Veterans positioning themselves around college dorms on North Carolina A & T’s campus, firing shots into and around those dorms,  leaving 20-year-old college student, Willie Grimes dead,  his murder still unsolved, and several Guardsmen injured.
In an ironic twist, the 1969 riot tore through the streets, nearly 10 years after the non-violent, widely effective 1960 sit-in at F.W. Woolworth’s lunch counter. Four North Carolina State A & T students, Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain, endured insults, assaults and danger to demand desegregation of the “white only” lunch counter section. Although successful, the accomplishment put a bitter taste in the mouths of racist whites and on some level intensified fear in some African-Americans. As one woman puts it in the film, “the times had changed and North Carolina was dealing with a different generation that felt like the time for being non-violent was over.”
“Walls That Bleed” is sure to spark national debate and perhaps open a genuine conversation across the world about race, equality, and social class anxiety, as well as the risk of ignoring all three.
“Walls That Bleed” is screening in Washington, DC today at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium at 5 p.m.

Here’s a link to the “Walls That Bleed” Web site: http://www.wallsthatbleedthemovie.com.

You can of course follow the film’s progress and show your support by “LIKING” the “Walls That Bleed” Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/wallsthatbleed.
We invite you to leave a comment on this page about the article and the film’s topic. You can e-mail Maniko Barthelemy directly at www.NewsHeels@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"I Thought It Was Forever" Crew Thanks Supporters

Thanks to all of the more than 30 people who donated more than $4,000 to the “I Thought It Was Forever” completion fundraising campaign. As outlined on our IndieGoGo page, each gift was tax-deductible and came with a signature token of appreciation from the crew. Starting the week of June 18, gifts and letters with instructions on how to claim your deduction next year, will be mailed to you.
Your financial support and the sharing of the film’s trailer with nearly 4,000 views in our 60-day period surpassed what some would label as an unachievable goal for an independent film about real people. Southern Belle Productions is in the final stages of filming “I Thought It Was Forever.” We know you are all anxiously awaiting the finished film and we will spend nearly three months writing and editing the documentary to ensure it has the quality and integrity that comes with the trust all cast members have put in the hands of our well-experienced crew.
We invite you to follow the progress of the film on our Facebook page by clicking on the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/I-Thought-It-Was-Forever/266635793379198. For more information on the cast, crew and content, please view previous blog entries on this page. You can also share your comments with Maniko Barthelemy directly at Maniko@SouthernBelleProductions.com.

Monday, May 14, 2012

"I Thought It Was Forever" Cast Rewind

It's down to the last few hours of the fundraising campaign to finish "I Thought It Was Forever," a bold documentary about people who were married, until a spouse came out. Please log on to view the trailer and support this film with as little as $10 at; http://www.indiegogo.com/I-Thought-It-Was-Forever?c=home.

Between president Obama's recent statement in support of same-sex marriage and presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's statement defining marriage as a bond between a man and woman, comes an explosive documentary, "I Thought It Was Forever," gives an in-depth look into the lives of seven people who represent the reportedly silent two million who are too ashamed, afraid and uncomfortable to tell the uncompromised truth about how it feels to be in the middle of two worlds, gay and straight. Here's a look at three candid cast members:
Joy holds up her book "The Straight Up Truth About the Down-Low"
Joy's reunion with her high school sweetheart more than 15 years after their teenage relationship ended lead to the two dating all over again, buying their dream home and getting married. While she saw a second chance at love, a bombshell she never predicted. "When your husband cheats on you with another woman you think to yourself, 'there is still something I can do,' but when it's with another man there's nothing you can do, your mind starts thinking about all of the things he's out their doing with other men," says Joy.

Melissa reflects on the warning signs she dismissed in her 16-year marriage
Melissa is in the middle of an intense legal battle with her now ex-husband whom she alleges abused her mentally and physically. While in their late teens, the two met while working at a retail store in Texas. "I was surprised because he was really shy and when I found out he liked me, I was like 'okay, I'll see where this will go," said Melissa. After dating more than four years, Melissa said yes to the proposal she'd anticipated. "We talked a lot about marriage, so when he asked me, I knew it was going to happen, so I wasn't too surprised." What did surprise Melissa was her ex-husband's double life. 

Carolyn's road to getting to happy after  the end of her 30-year marriage is still a work-in-progress
As a college student during the early '70s Carolyn's excitement about school and romance was understandably giddy. Her focus heavily centered on being a super student but of course, when the opportunity for love and the American dream knocked, Carolyn's answer was yes. "I said yes because I didn't think anyone else would ever ask. Immediately after he asked me, he went into my parent's guest bathroom and threw up," Carolyn says, holding back tears. 

Fast-forward more than 30 years and the retired government employee isolates herself  from society as a result of how her marriage ended but spends hours online helping spouses on both sides of the same-sex secret connect with resources available through "The Straight Spouse Network."

You can find out more about Joy, Melissa, Carolyn and the entire "I Thought It Was Forever" cast at the film's Facebook page at;   https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Movie-I-Thought-It-Was-Forever/266635793379198. In previous editions on this blog, you'll find brief stories about couples who appear in "I Thought It Was Forever."

Feel free to leave a comment about this article with Maniko at NewsHeels@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

"I Thought It Was Forever" Weekly All Access Cast Rewind

Photo Courtesy of Marc
When a car crash nearly ended Marc's life, he found the courage to face what he avoided for years, at the risk of losing everything he worked hard to accomplish, his marriage, children and a happy life. "I knew I had to tell Lorraine because I realized I could have died and she'd never really know the person she married," says Marc. 

A quick glance at Lorraine in middle school was all Marc needed to know there was something special about the young woman he'd later marry. "I just looked at her and it was like seeing an angel," says Marc. Like many middle school crushes, Lorraine and Marc had a consistently inconsistent relationship. However, their connection and attraction excelled far beyond just physical, leaving room for their friendship and trust to  intensify. "We lived near each other and would meet up a lot at the mailbox and just talk about things that were going on in our lives," says Marc.
Photo Courtesy of Marc
Marc and Lorraine share their story of love gained, lost and life after the unraveling of their 16-year marriage, the result of falling out of love, Marc coming out and coming to grips with his true identity. We invite you to view the "I Thought It Was Forever" trailer at http://www.indiegogo.com/I-Thought-It-Was-Forever. 

Meet the the full "I Thought It Was Forever" cast on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Movie-I-Thought-It-Was-Forever/266635793379198.

Please leave a comment or e-mail Maniko Barthelemy directly at NewsHeels@gmail.com.

Monday, April 30, 2012

"I Thought It Was Forever" Weekly All Access Cast Rewind

Are you able to live and find your happiness, after an unpredictable relationship bombshell? What would you do if you found out your spouse was secretly gay or if the person you thought was gay, was secretly straight? Instantly, you may be like many people who contemplate murder/suicide, revenge, or some sort of calculated and intensely dramatic way to pay the person back for hurting you. 

That's exactly why "I Thought It Was Forever" is an important, universal and timely documentary. Through on-camera interviews, personal photos and candid commentary, the documentary examines exactly how seven people dealt with the unnerving question that seems to be rather easy to answer. The reactions and reality of every cast member will heighten awareness and spark conversations about same-sex marriage, attraction, et that are still taboo in many families.

Every week, leading up to May 16th, which is the deadline to raise completion funds for "I Thought It Was Forever," on this blog, you'll get a cast recap.  You can view the trailer and pledge a donation at http://www.indiegogo.com/I-Thought-It-Was-Forever?a=386630.
Randy & Sue
Photo Courtesy of Randy
"I woke up excited about our 21st wedding anniversary and all the titles I treasured, being a father, husband and friend, were erased," says Randy, after finding out Sue was having an affair with a woman. The couple met while Randy was serving in the Air Force in England, during the '70s. 
Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Dortch

Randy is on some level able to accept his life to the woman he wanted and believed was his true love just didn't work out as he dreamed. "God answers all prayers and sometimes the answer is no," he says. 
During her recent interview, Sue reflects on her life before coming out
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray

While Randy only recently accepted his reality, his ex-wife says she told Randy very early in the marriage exactly how she felt. "He wanted to have an open marriage and wanted me to just go away on the weekends and do what I wanted to do and come home and be with him but I told him about five years after we were married, it wasn't going to work," says Sue.
Photo Courtesy of Lawrence Dortch

Today, Sue is in a committed relationship with Jackie. Just like Sue, Jackie was in a traditional marriage for several years before she came out to her family and divorced her husband. "It's not like we get married to people and purposefully set out to hurt them," says Jackie.
Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray

Be sure to log on next week to meet Marc & Lorraine. Years of silence, sadness and suppressing disappointment, gradually replaced their cookie-cutter happiness that began when the couple met in middle school. After a 16-year marriage, where at least nine years were overshadowed with financial burdens and emotional turbulence, both took a heartbreaking step away from their marriage and divorced. "I had a nearly fatal car accident and almost died and I remember thinking, if I'd died, Lorraine would have never known who she really married," says Marc.
Photo Courtesy of Marc

Please forward all of your comments to Maniko Barthelemy at NewsHeels@gmail.com. You can also follow the progress of "I Thought It Was Forever" on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Movie-I-Thought-It-Was-Forever

Friday, April 20, 2012

"I Thought It Was Forever" Weekly All Access Pass

From concept to creation and completion, the progress of a documentary like "I Thought It Was Forever" depends heavily on a well-experienced crew, a brave cast and donations from family members and friends. The film is like "Broke Back Mountain" meeting "Modern Family" and "Happily Divorced," only the people in "I Thought It Was Forever" are real, their stories candid and the outcome is unpredictable.

Throughout the online fundraising campaign to raise $15,000 in completion funds for the film, on this blog you will get a weekly in-depth look at a member of the cast and crew making the universal film possible. This week, Southern Belle Productions, LLC introduces you to cast member, Sue.

Sue’s Story
Photo Courtesy of Randy
A traditional family life with everything but a pet is exactly how Sue lived her life in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., married for more than two decades. Sue, although she had just about everything most women want, was hurting inside and void of ultimate happiness. She met Randy, the U.S. serviceman who fell in love with her madly, while Randy was stationed in England. “We met on a blind date. He was really nice and funny,” says Sue. After dating and later marrying in England, the couple began their American dream with their two children. “We went on a lot of vacations and had some wonderful times. I absolutely loved my children.”
Photo Courtesy of Randy
As her love for her children intensified, Sue’s desire to be intimate and in the same room as Randy became an emotional and physical wedge, eventually leading to their divorce. “I told him five years into the marriage that I was gay but he wanted an open relationship,” says Sue.  Randy admits he tried everything possible to hold onto his marriage, even meeting with Sue’s lover at the couple’s home, but denies Sue ever told him about her secret. “I even considered an open marriage, until the day Sue came home, skipped down the stairs with a rose and straddled her lover in front of me and kissed her,” says Randy. Sue vehemently denies Randy’s account.  “I want him to move on with his life and finally be happy. If he’s holding out for me to come back, that ain’t gonna happen,” says Sue.
Trudi/Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray
Randy and Sue have two adult children, Trudi and Marc, who were witnesses to the unraveling of their parent’s marriage, just as the two were in the middle of their teenage years. The whole family is featured in “I Thought It Was Forever.” 
Sue & Jackie (Photo Courtesy of Jeff Ray)
Jackie, Sue’s partner is also in the film. “I know what people think but we don’t get married to men just so we can divorce them later and hurt them,” says Jackie.

Do you believe Sue or Randy’s account? What would you do if you came home and your wife told you she didn’t love you the way you want or deserve to be loved because she’s in love with a woman?  Leave a comment on this site or e-mail Maniko Barthelemy directly at NewsHeels@gmail.com.   

Join us next week for a cast re-cap, in case you missed the previous editions of the weekly “I Thought It Was Forever” All Access Pass.