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The 30th of May

This film is a story of African American tradition, patriotism and empowerment in the Deep South. Since the end of the Civil War, African Americans in Vidalia, La., and Natchez, Ms. have come together to celebrate black military service on Memorial Day. For 100 of those years, there were two Memorial Day celebrations in the same city of Natchez---one black and one white. By the mid-1990's, the white celebration faded away, while the black celebration known as the "30th of May" continued to march on.

Virtually unknown outside of the region, this annual event is passed down from generation to generation giving evidence that the roots of patriotism run deep in the Mississippi River towns of Vidalia, Louisiana and Natchez, Mississippi.

Using animation, archival and aerial footage, and interviews with veterans, organizers and participants, the "30th of May"documentary brings to life the remarkable untold story of this African American-led patriotic tradition in the Deep South. The film's original score captures the spirit of the 30th of May.

It's a tradition unlike any other on the country.

  • James William Theres/Chris Windfield
  • James William Theres
  • James William Theres
  • Chris Windfield
  • Chris Windfield
    Director of Cinematography
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Veterans, American History, Military, African American history
  • Runtime:
    28 minutes 44 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 31, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    1080 HD
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • 11th Annual GI Film Festival
    Washington DC
    United States
    May 24, 2017
    Washington DC
  • Mississippi Public Broadcasting
    Jackson, Mississippi
    United States
    May 28, 2017
    MPB Premiere
  • 14th Annual San Diego Black Film Festival
    San Diego
    United States
    April 26, 2017
  • Mississippi Department of Archives and History
    Jackson, Mississippi
    United States
    May 31, 2017
  • 1st Annual National Black Film Festival
    United States
    April 7, 2017
  • 6th Annual Maryland International Film Festival
    United States
    March 31, 2017
    Maryland Premiere
  • Accolade Film Festival
    Accolade Global Film Competition
    United States
    March 6, 2017
  • VA Central Office-Black History Month
    Washington D.C.
    United States
    February 23, 2017
  • 14th Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival
    Marina Del Ray
    United States
    February 22, 2017
    LA Premiere
  • 4th Annual Borrego Springs Film Festival
    Borrego Springs
    United States
    January 15, 2017
  • Top Indie Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    March 31, 2017
  • LA Independent Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    January 1, 2017
  • Best Shorts Competition
    La Jolla
    United States
    December 13, 2016
    Award of Merit
  • Leadership VA2016
    United States
    November 15, 2016
    Public Screening
  • 10th Annual Black International Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    October 17, 2016
    UK Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Tougaloo College
    Jackson, Mississippi
    United States
    November 7, 2016
    Public Education screening
  • Jackson State University
    Jackson, Mississippi
    United States
    November 9, 2016
    Public Education screening
  • International Independent Film Festival
    Encino, California
    United States
    September 17, 2016
    Gold Award
  • Docs Without Borders Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    May 8, 2017
    Film Competition
    Award of Excellence
  • Calcutta International Film Festival
    April 20, 2017
    India premiere
    Finalist Award
  • Columbus Black International Film Festival
    United States
    August 5, 2017
  • Indie Gathering Film Festival
    United States
    August 12, 2017
    Best Student Documentary
  • VA Public Affairs Conference
    United States
    August 10, 2017
  • Capital City Black Film Festival
    United States
    August 18, 2017
Director Biography - James William Theres/Chris Windfield

James William Theres is an award-winning Public Affairs Officer and Speechwriter at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington D.C. He has received 10 national awards for speechwriting, feature writing, event planning, and media affairs. James has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and an MA in History from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. His first film, “The 30th of May” is based on his graduate research paper of the same name. The 28-minute documentary chronicles the 150-year history of an African American Memorial Day parade and tradition in the Deep South to honor black military service to the country. The documentary has screened in England, India, China, and throughtout the United States. His graduate paper received two awards in 2016 for Best Paper at the Mississippi Phi Alpha Theta Regional History Conference and was the recipient of the presitgious Dr. Margaret Walker Alexander Award for Best Paper at the 10th Annual Creative Arts Festival at Jackson State University. “The 30th of May” documentary has received 26 awards to include Best Documentary Short at the Indie Gathering Film Festival in Cleveland, Ohio and has appeared on Mississippi Public Television.

Mr. Theres is currently in production of his second documentary entitled, “The Hello Girls: America’s First Female Soldiers.” “The Hello Girls” is a 54-minute Documentary Feature about 223 English/French-speaking American women who were recruited by the U.S. Army to serve as telephone operators in France during World War I. They served near the front lines, wore uniforms, swore an Army Oath, held rank and played an important role in winning the war. After the war was over they were told they were never Soldiers after all. For 60 years, they fought the U.S. government for recognition. In 1977, they won. Unfortunately, most had passed on by then. “The Hello Girls” is scheduled for a world premiere at the Women’s Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in March 2018.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

I launched my film company Lincoln Penny Films in 2016 with the sole purpose of sharing the amazing stories of ordinary people and events hidden in the nooks and crannies of American history.