The City of Birmingham will be the site of an advance Alabama screening of the critically acclaimed Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, on Saturday, March 25, at 7:00pm. The film will be screened at what was formerly the 2nd Presbyterian Church on the University of Alabama at Birmingham campus. The building is now known as Spencer Honors House, a site where in fact, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke from the pulpit on one occasion.
To date, the only public viewings of this important feature documentary have been at select film festivals including the prestigious Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival where it was met with stellar reviews. The event is presented by Create Birmingham, in collaboration with Spencer Proffer and production company Meteor 17.
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, written and directed by John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him? ), is a thought-provoking, uplifting, powerful and passionate film about an outside-the-box thinker whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This rich, textured and compelling portrait of a remarkable artist reveals the critical events, passions, experiences and challenges that shaped the life of John Coltrane and his revolutionary sounds. The film was produced with support of the Coltrane Estate and the record labels that collectively own the Coltrane catalog.
Two-time Academy Award winning actor, Denzel Washington speaks the words of Coltrane throughout the film. “In many of his roles Denzel radiates an exceptional quiet strength,” Scheinfeld said. “Coltrane, many of his friends told me, embodied a similar strength. That’s why Denzel was my first choice to speak his words and I’m thrilled he made the time to participate in our film.”
Amongst the film’s interviewees are former President Bill Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, Carlos Santana, Academy Award winner Common (“Selma” title song), jazz legend Sonny Rollins and former Coltrane band member McCoy Tyner amongst other esteemed musicians. Spencer Proffer was selected by the Coltrane family to lead the production in light of his highly regarded and long career as a music producer and songwriter who has been responsible for millions of records sold around the world. He is producing important music based media projects for film, television and live events domestically and internationally. Proffer will be flying in to be on hand for the screening on Saturday, March 25th and will engage in a Q-and-A with the audience after the film.
Coltrane’s composition and recording, “Alabama,” and its genesis is highlighted in a segment in the film. The composition was inspired by the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing and set to the pentameter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s sermon response to that act.
Producer Proffer is the child of Holocaust survivors and has stated, “16th Street and Kelly Ingram Park are hallowed ground. My family connection to the struggle for civil and human rights is the reason I wanted to personally deliver this film for viewing in Birmingham.”
He has a career-long commitment to issues of civil and human rights, among other civic issues to which he gives time and resources. And most coincidentally, he is no stranger to Alabama. Governor Robert Bentley proclaimed Proffer an honorary citizen of the State in 2013 because of his continuing commitment to Huntsville’s Space Camp and Aviation Challenge, where his son attended for 8 summers.
Proffer provided dozens of scholarships to kids across North America to further science and space education while producing the SET Award winning movie, Space Warriors, in partnership with Walden Media at that time.
In welcoming the film screening to Birmingham, Mayor William Bell stated, “The history of Birmingham is central to American history. John Coltrane’s inspired ‘Alabama’ is an eternal musical monument to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. We thank Spencer and his team for including us in this film’s journey and making this very meaningful connection with our community.”
Buddy Palmer, president and CEO of Create Birmingham, stated “It’s an honor to be a local collaborator with Meteor 17 in bringing “Chasing Trane” to Birmingham. The film is a loving tribute to an amazing genius, and it reminds us that one of the greatest gifts that art gives to humanity is to express that which is otherwise too deeply felt for words.”