Saturday night at FICE Gallery in downtown Salt Lake City was a night that Donavan Edwards will never forget.
It was a night considered extraordinary and unique, dedicated to the relationship between the Utah Jazz and the celebration of Black Experience Month — and Edwards was the primary reason.
Starting with the organization five months ago, the videographer/editor always wanted to create a short film with the Jazz. But as the organization took a much more prominent role in the celebration and honor of Black History Month, Edwards took that expansion as an opportunity to tap into his creative mind and do what he’s always wanted to do.
“I always knew I wanted to create films, so when I first started with the Jazz, it was a way for me to take the first step into what my ultimate goal was,” Edwards said. “I’m just a kid from Ohio, so coming out to Utah on my own, it was a shock at first. … But I’m so lucky to have the support from the organization that they trusted me to create this in my own way.”
What followed was the creation of ‘Sunday Dinner,’ a short film by Edwards that depicted one of the most time-honored traditions of black culture. Using personal experiences from his past, the film delved into the often misrepresented and complicated relationship between a father and son and other symbolic measures of black culture.
“What I really love to do with my films is symbolism. … Starting with an old broken clock, which symbolizes the father and where he’s at in life, and ending with a modern clock that shows the relationship is moving forward,” Edwards said. “It was like therapy for me because a lot of things the characters go through with that movie I went through with my dad in some way, shape, or form.”
The short film made its debut in front of a large crowd — with three showings total — Saturday night at FICE Gallery. With friends, coworkers, the actors, and others in attendance, Edwards received a standing ovation following the premiere — achieving his goal of not just making a short film but one that brought out emotion in those watching.
“I wanted to depict my people in the right way and make sure that was on point,” Edwards said of the film. “Also, we’re in Utah, which has a lot of work to be done. I’m glad that I really did find that happy balance between appeasing these different groups and showing empathy the way it should be.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 1, 2022
As a whole, the night was a showcase to further celebrate the Black experience as part of Utah’s Black Experience Month.
With the success of the short film came a very successful night in its entirety. There was an apparel and capsule collection by Jon Stan, Circulate and Future is Color, put together by the Utah Jazz marketing team available for purchase, and artwork by Matthew Sketch.
The apparel collection will be sold on Monday, Feb. 14 on the porch at Vivint Arena before that night’s tipoff with Houston. The proceeds will go to local non-profits in Black communities.
But one of the best parts of the evening was the continued celebration of black culture through music. Sets by DJ Joune (Official DJ of the Utah Jazz), Radical Jones, Soul Plane, Wake, and Arlander Taylor kept the crowd entertained throughout the evening before a performance by Erne encapsulated the entire night.
Taylor was instrumental in the creation of the entire evening. A graphic designer for the Jazz, he was the man behind the scenes who put the whole evening together to showcase and celebrate black experience, artistry, and perspective.
Altogether, the night was an extraordinary and unique experience, dedicated to the relationship between the Utah Jazz organization and the celebration of Black Experience Month.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 12, 2022