Local film, filmmakers win Davey Award from Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts

Melissa Lloyd-Wade (L) and film director Kareem McMichael (R) on the set of MLK JR. BLVD. Photo by Susanna Deal.
Melissa Lloyd-Wade (L) and film director Kareem McMichael (R) on the set of MLK JR. BLVD. Photo by Susanna Deal.

Local filmmakers Kareem McMichael and Chad Penchion have been recognized with Silver award honors at 17th Annual Davey Awards with their film “MLK JR. BLVD.” 

The Davey Awards, which are judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, are divided into different categories and honor the finest creative work from the best small shops, firms, and companies worldwide. With over 2,000 entries from across the globe, only a select few receive an award. 

“MLK JR. BLVD” won Silver for Film/Video-Entertainment for Non-Broadcast. 

“It is an honor to have our film recognized with this award,” McMichael said. “We worked really hard on this project and wanted to tell a story that has been true and personal to people.” 

Written by Penchion and directed by McMichael, “MLK JR. BLVD” follows the life of a young artist and music lover, De’Andre, whose father, a policeman, is killed in the line of duty.  

De’Andre resents that his father worked for a system he feels oppresses people and expresses his distrust for the system through art. With tones of underlying racial tension and stereotypes, the short film explores negative perceptions surrounding race relations and De’Andre’s struggle to find himself.

According to McMichael, the film started as a student project of Penchion’s when he was a student at SCAD.

“We started working on the film in November of 2018,” he said. “We had a few production hiccups along the way but we pulled it together and finished in April of 2019. After filming was complete, we wrapped up post-production in about four days. A lot of hours went into this film and I’m really proud of the dedication from the entire crew.”

McMichael added that in addition to the time and dedication that went into the film, he’s especially proud of the level of authenticity he feels the crew was able to bring on screen.

“When we all sat down and broke down the script and the cinematography, we knew we wanted to capture the reality of what it’s like on most ‘MLK JR. BLVDs’ in almost every city including cities as rural as Statesboro,” said McMichael. 

“There’s an aesthetic to it and we really wanted to capture the essence of that but also in the film capture this duality of what Martin Luther King Jr. was and what Malcom X was. Although they had different perspectives they were fighting for the same thing.” 

In addition to winning a Davey Award, “MLK JR. BLVD” has been seen in over 15 film festivals. The film was also a semi-finalist in the Los Angeles Cinefest, a finalist in the Southeast Regional Film Festival in Jacksonville, and won “Best Student Film” at the Charlotte Black Film Festival. 

McMichael says he’s working on releasing the film via streaming platforms.

“It’s not streaming anywhere yet but we are discussing those possibilities. We’re hoping to get it on Amazon Prime and a few other streaming platforms eventually.”

To follow the release and McMichael’s work visit kmcmichael.weebly.com or visit his instagram @Karmac_ent1

Editor’s note: Kareem McMichael is a regular contributor to Connect Savannah.