Biopic Of Historic African American Play 'Voodoo Macbeth' Wins Best Of Fest At 2021 Sedona International Film Festival

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Sunday, June 20, 2021 - 10:39pm
Updated: Sunday, June 20, 2021 - 10:47pm

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A still from the film "Voodoo Macbeth."
Dagmawi Abebe/Lead Film Director
A still from the film "Voodoo Macbeth." The film won Best of Fest at the 27th annual Sedona International Film Festival.

In 1936 Harlem, an all-Black cast produced an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "Macbeth," commonly referred to as “Voodoo Macbeth.”

A new biopic of the same name about the production won Best of Fest last weekend at the 27th annual Sedona International Film Festival.

The famous play reimagines the classic Scottish tale and the film captures the dramatic interplay of its then 20-year-old untested director, Orson Welles, against and in congress with theatre moguls, the acting company, producers, media, patrons and the crowd.

JOHN HOUSEMAN: "Orson Welles, meet Rose McClendon."

WELLES: The play is set in 19th century Haiti, not with witchcraft — with Voodoo."


Rose McLendon was founder of the Negro People's Theatre and was a marquee actress on Broadway during the Roaring '20s. The production partly sprung out of her desire to utilize funding from President Franklin Delano Roosevelts’ New Deal for what was then called the Federal Theatre Project’s Negro Unit which she helped create, but McLendon had a much more true-to-original script idea in mind when seeking to bring "Macbeth" to the stage, even with a groundbreaking all-Black cast.

The play is now widely considered a landmark of African American theatrical history.

The fullest account of the production can be found in Simon Callow’s book, “Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu.”

Sedona International Film Festival Winners

Directors’ Choice Awards

Best Feature Drama: "Gun and a Hotel Bible"

Best Feature Comedy: "Granny Nanny"

Best International Feature: "Asia"

Best Humanitarian Feature: "The Cave"

Best Family Film: "Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers"

Best Documentary: "In Memoriam"

Best International Documentary: "Sakawa"

Best Humanitarian Documentary: "Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story"

Best Documentary Short: "Unspoken"

Best Short Drama: "The Mirror"

Best Short Comedy: "Rock A Bye Baby"

Best Short Dramedy: "The Forgotten Place"

Best Student Short: "Etana"

Best Humanitarian Short: "Under the Lights"

Best International Short: "Samaritan"

Best Animated Short: "Beyond the Line"

Most Innovative Short: "Transfer"

Indie Spirit — Short: "Red Watch"

Indie Spirit — Documentary: "On Our Own Island"

Indie Spirit — Narrative Feature: "Voodoo Macbeth"

Year of COVID Award: "The Pee Pee Monster"

Marion Herrman Excellence in Filmmaking Award: "The Children Will Lead the Way"

Most Impactful Film: "One Moment"

Special Awards

Lifetime Achievement: Bob Mackie

Lifetime Achievement: Tom Skerritt

Lifetime Achievement: Luis Valdez

Heart of the Festival: Chuck Marr

Audience Choice Awards

Best of Fest: "Voodoo Macbeth"

Best Feature Drama: "The Subject"

Best Feature Comedy: "Queen Bees"

Best International Film: "So, What’s Freedom?"

Best Documentary: Tie between "In a Different Key" and "On Our Own Island."

Best Short Documentary: Tie between "The Roads Most Traveled: Photojournalist Don Bartletti" and "Death: Through a Nurse’s Eyes."

Best Short Drama: "The Forgotten Place"

Best Short Comedy: "Exit Package"

Best Student Short: "Thoughts and Prayers"

Best Animated Short: "Bench"

Most Impactful Film (Narrative): "They Who Surround Us"

Most Impactful Film (Documentary): "The Healthcare Cure"

Screen Competition Winners

Short Film: “The Body of Chris” by Erin Brown Thomas.

Feature Film: “Horizon Calling” by Russel Knight.

TV Pilot: “Grace in the Clutch” by Addie Talbott.

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