Movie explores fatherhood and racial tension through the lens of a 1943 race riot.
By Elena Longoria
The historical fiction film “The Example” will play at 9:25 and 10:50 a.m. Feb. 13 in Room 218 of the nursing complex as part of Black History Month.
Three of the filmmakers will discuss the making of the film after each screening.
Set in the 1940s in East Texas, it tells the story of a white police officer and a black businessman who cross paths during a traffic stop after curfew.
The film is based on a race riot that took place in Beaumont in 1943. The film contains strong language and is rated PG-13.
The filmmakers — screenwriter Gordon Williams and director Wyatt Cagle — became interested in learning more about the riot as students in the early 2000s at Beaumont’s Lamar University.
Two people — one black and one white — were killed in the riot and 50 were injured. It began after a white woman accused a black man of rape, according to the Texas State Historical Association’s online “Handbook of Texas.” Police arrested more than 200 rioters, and a black man died months later from injuries suffered in the riot.
Williams and Cagle expressed their enthusiasm for the film in separate phone interviews Jan 24.
They came together in 2012 to write and direct “The Example.”
“After reading the first draft, I knew I had to make it,” Cagle said. He said they hope the film will not only bring people together but “open conversation between people from different races and backgrounds in a polite way.”
Williams agreed, saying the film should get people talking.
“As a filmmaker you hope you can create something people would want to talk about,” Williams said, adding that he hoped to create something that would accurately portray the riot. Williams believes this film will change people’s perspectives and bring some commonality while entertaining viewers.
The plot also explores the relationship between a father and a son during the riot.
In 2012 and 2013, Cagle and co-producer Kenneth Dupuis were both experiencing fatherhood for the first time. Williams, meanwhile, said their experience made him think about the influence of his own father.
“The journey caused me to reflect on the influence my father had on my life,” Williams said. “We wanted to take the idea of fatherhood, along with the research we gathered from the race riot, and create a historical fiction piece. ‘The Example’ was the result.”
Williams has a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in broadcasting and is from Cleveland, Texas.
Cagle has a bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus on film production and is from Bridge City.
Today Williams is a television studio operations manager at Lamar University, and Cagle is a freelance director of photography and film editor at CGL Studios.
Cagle has directed multiple short films including “Gemini” in 2004 and has more than 17 years of experience in the television and film industry directing and producing for Fox and PBS. Williams has written and produced more than seven different projects and has worked on five short films with Cagle.
Cagle’s favorite part of the filmmaking process was “getting to edit and craft while knowing what you have and what you don’t.” He and Williams agreed that working with the unique cast and crew was one of their favorite parts of the film.
“The Example” premiered in Houston in March 2016. It has been accepted to more than 20 film festivals and has won six awards. The film will be available online after the festival run, but there is still no official online release date.
For more information about the film, visit www.examplemovie.com.
For more information on the screening at this college, call Dee Dixon at 210-486-0598.