SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Most movies are a labor of love to the people who make them, but that was certainly the case for Bennie Mitchell III.
The young filmmaker just completed a documentary about a historical Savannah figure - who just happened to be his father.
The next time Bennie Mitchell III goes inside the Savannah Theater, he will be bringing his father with him.
“I knew if I didn’t tell this story, it was going to haunt me for the rest of my life,” he said.
In January, Mitchell will return once again to his hometown for the world premiere of "It Is Well,'' a documentary the SCAD graduate made about his late father. His father, the reverend Dr. Bennie Mitchell Jr., was a pastor, preacher and civil rights champion who was instrumental in the formation of Savannah’s Martin Luther King Junior Parade and the renaming of MLK Boulevard in the city.
“He emulated Dr. King to a degree in his own style, but he did pick up the torch where it was left off."
The story is told in part through a series of interviews.
“It wasn’t hard. These people know my father. Cynthia McKinney, Jesse Jackson...”
The movie’s soul comes from a cache of video tapes Mitchell found in his parents' garage.
“I had material to pull from. Even when I was 12 years old, I was shooting significant stuff of him and Coretta Scott King and some other stuff. I’m 12, so a lot of stuff I pulled from home videos.”
Now living in Los Angeles, Mitchell spent the better part of 10 years making the film that he will show for the first time on Jan. 29 at the Savannah Theater, reigniting his father’s message.
“One of the things that you’re going to see when you see the film that I hope I conveyed in the film is, we can do a lot more together instead of separate, and that’s true today. Everything in the film, it’s relevant right now, just different names.”
Mitchell said his family decided they wanted the movie to be screened for the first time in Savannah, but he has entered "It Is Well' in 50 film festivals for the coming year.