Films are a powerful medium of expression. They can put a lens on our society and reflect the various cultures, people, and beliefs that pervade our world and its existence. As such, various media companies are taking a much more intimate approach to this art form zeroing in on certain communities and putting them on display on a global stage. Lakethen D. Mason, founder, and Executive Director of Memphis Film Works, is deeply committed to this mission shaping the narrative and global message of what Memphis truly stands for.
Memphis Film Works is a public media company that is dedicated to connecting communities to Mid-south art, life, history, music, and culture. Lakethen D. Mason is a native Memphian who is deeply involved in sharing Memphis’ contributions towards upholding racial, social, and cultural equity.
No matter where you are in the world, people want to know more about Memphis, our music, our food, our people, and our grind. It is the one place where ‘Love and Happiness’ meets ‘Joy and Pain’ right in the middle,” shared Mason. He firmly believes that his city is the bedrock of cultural understanding. “It is that city that experiences and expresses humanity in ways no other city does,” he added.
Back in 2015, Lakethen D. Mason left his corporate office job to work tirelessly behind the scenes to create unique spaces and opportunities for having authentic conversations take place in his hometown. From hosting empowerment summits to producing documentaries about Memphis art and life to overseeing historical landmark dedications and celebrations indicative of the city’s global presence, Mason has placed his hands on the pulse of local culture. His most recent venture parlays into the world of book writing and publishing.
In 2019, after already engaging hundreds of Memphians around the city and Memphians living in other cities around the world, Mason wanted to go deeper. Partnering with several philanthropic organizations and launching a city-wide neighborhood initiative, the firebrand founder opened the doors to facilitating hundreds of conversations with everyday residents of Memphis who weren’t featured in mainstream media.
This was a pivotal moment for Mason. He knew right away that the stories were real and relevant and needed to be shared with the world. “Our Neighbors have the questions, answers and solutions to everyday life.” The conversation continues in the first installment of a multiple book and film release entitled “Our Neighbors, Our Stories: In Search of Common Ground.” Through the series of books and film, he sets out to honor the unsung voices in Memphis, allowing them to transform the lives of the audience by sharing their unique stories.
Mason hopes to establish “A Center for Cultural Understanding,” which promises more in-depth research into humanities and more community story explorations. Mason also shares a vision of Memphis being the epicenter for Social and Cultural Understanding. He looks to name this space the “Midsouth Humanities Center for Cultural Understanding”.
“This center would invite ‘community-focused and influenced dreamers, thinkers, and doers in one space, to share, address and create solutions around community needs and concerns,” explained Mason. He also sees the center as an educational facility that cultivates youth capabilities in the field of the arts, media, and humanities.
Moreover, Mason envisions this regional center being a place where academicians, scholars, activists, and residents work in tandem to move humanity forward. “Memphians have the answers to global solutions. We have the experience of working through joys and pains. Our culture shows up all over the world one way or another. Mason shares, “The time is now for Memphis to know just how essential its voice is to transform this nation, its neighborhoods, and the overall worldwide human experience.”