Arts news | To be Black in Boulder: Doc screens in Ontario | Arts & Entertainment

” ‘The happiest place in America is Boulder, Colorado’ – said no Black person ever.”

That’s the entry point into a hard-hitting new documentary called “This is [Not] Who We Are,” which will be featured Saturday (May 28) at the Hamilton Black Film Festival in Ontario. That’s a biting commentary on Boulder being named “The Happiest City in America” by National Geographic back in 2017.

“This is [Not] Who We Are” is a documentary by Beret E. Strong and Katrina Miller that explores the gap between Boulder’s progressive self-image and the lived experiences of a Black community that accounts for just 1.2 percent of Boulder’s population.

Beret E. Strong and Katrina Miller

Film directors Beret E. Strong, left, and Katrina Miller

The throughline is the story of Zayd Atkinson, a Naropa University student who was performing his work-study job cleaning up the grounds around his dorm when he was confronted by a police officer with a taser and, soon, eight more officers with guns drawn.

“He lived to tell the story many Black men don’t survive to tell,” the filmmakers say. The incident turned into a viral video, a mass protest and a community-wide conversation on the subject of Boulder and race.

This is [Not] Who We Are

 A still from the documentary ‘This is [Not] Who We Are,’ set in Boulder.

“This is [Not] Who We Are” traces deeply systemic racism in Boulder dating back to the 1870s in terms of land use, affordability, racial and class-based segregation, educational equity and policing. The film points out Boulder was originally founded to be an exclusive community by making only expensive $1,000 lots available, and that cross burnings took place on Flagstaff Mountain as late as the 1940s.

The film can be seen online June 11 as part of the Women of African Descent Film Festival before live screenings in Charlotte, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Berlin. It was shown earlier this year at the Boulder International Film Festival and the DocuWest Film Festival in Denver.

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Jesters Dinner Theatre is closing

Jesters Dinner Theatre, one of the state’s last remaining dinner theaters, is closing after 23 years in downtown Longmont with Sunday’s final performance of “Guys & Dolls.”

Jesters Dinner Theater Aida

A photo from Jesters Dinner Theater’s 2010 production of ‘Aida.’

Owners Scott and Mary Lou Moore put the 9,000-square-foot building up for sale two months ago at a list price of $2 million. They bought the property, which had been a lumberyard, for $390,000 in 1999 and spent another $400,000 turning it into a theater. There’s been plenty of interest from developers, Scott Moore says, and he has no illusions that a buyer will emerge who will keep it as a theater. Friends of Jesters started a GoFundMe two months ago to try to raise the $2 million, but the effort stalled at around $11,000. 

Dinner theater has been on the decline in Colorado for 20 years, but where it lives, it is largely living large. Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, a 330-seat jewel in Johnstown, has been sold out for every performance in 2022, a run spanning “The Sound of Music,” “Curtains,” “Murder on the Orient Express” and now “Singin’ in the Rain, which is 90 percent sold-out halfway through its 10-week run.

“We feel extremely fortunate,” said Jalyn Courtenay Webb, Director of Sales and Marketing. “People are excited to have a full-service experience that includes dinner.”

Jesters, Moore emphasizes, is not closing for lack of business. “Other than the pandemic, we have been busier since 2015 than we ever were before,” said Moore. “We’re just done.”