Leslie is an artist, filmmaker and owner of TRIBES Entertainment, a boutique digital media company known for creating daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities. Read more

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Blog

TWO HAYTI BLACK FILMMAKERS COLLECTIVE DRIVE-INS / SCREENINGS OCTOBER 2021

In celebration of the Hayti Black Filmmakers Collective (HBFC), the Hayti Film Next Level series brings you two HBFC member films in October. These offerings will be presented the 2nd weekend in October featuring two drive-ins and online virtual screenings.First we’ll screen the award-winning The Passing On (directed by Nathan Clarke and produced by HBFC member Lana Garland) … Continue reading TWO HAYTI BLACK FILMMAKERS COLLECTIVE DRIVE-INS / SCREENINGS OCTOBER 2021

SLIPPAGE @ Duke University Fall Series presents JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana.

Sunday, August 29 at 3pm the SLIPPAGE @ Duke University 2021 Fall Series presents the first two parts from Durham-based creator, Leslie Cunningham’s new documentary film series “JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana”. Slippage@Duke is directed by Thomas F. DeFrantz at the Rubenstein Arts Center. All events will be in the SLIPPAGE lab, … Continue reading SLIPPAGE @ Duke University Fall Series presents JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana.

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FEATURED DOCUMENTARY FILM

JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana

A documentary film series by Leslie Cunningham 

Logline: The glorious legend of Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, a so-called Jig Show that endures racism, segregation and immigration laws to become popular in the 1940s through the 1960s. Read more at jigshow.com. 

Finding Aumont Whitaker

A short doc film by Leslie Cunningham. (2018, RT 11:42 min)

Logline: When Dina learns her real father passed away, she sets out on a cross country journey to meet three sisters she never met. Watch now.

M.I., A Different Kind of Girl 

A documentary film by Leslie Cunningham. (2012, RT 52 min)

Logline: A male impersonator struggles to find acceptance from her families and the male-dominated drag community. Visit maleillusionistthefilm.com. Watch now.

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About

Meet Leslie

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Leslie is an artist, writer, documentary filmmaker and owner of TRIBES Entertainment, a boutique digital media company known for creating daring and entertaining narratives that represent a diversity of subjects and communities. A raconteur with a journalistic background, Leslie’s collection of engaging film and videos have screened on public television, online and at film festivals in the U.S. and internationally.

Leslie is currently working on her second feature documentary film, JIG SHOW | Leon Claxton’s Harlem in Havana, which honors her grandfather’s popular traveling revue that significantly impacted Black entertainment in the mid-20th century, during Jim Crow times. 

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Leslie created TRIBES Magazine in 2004 as artists across the Triangle area of North Carolina were calling out for a voice.  Leslie’s popular show TRIBES TV covered North Carolina arts and community events and aired on public television stations, including Durham Community Media and The People’s Channel in Chapel Hill, NC. A public broadcasting hit, TRIBES TV spread Leslie’s reputation as a local media institution to citizens around the Triangle.  

A graduate of the documentary arts program at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in Durham, NC, Leslie released her first feature film, M.I., A Different Kind of Girl, in 2012. M.I. was selected for The North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Atlanta’s Out On FilmGender Reel Film Festival in 2012, and ended its festival tour in 2016 at Massimadi, the LGBT Film Festival of Africa and its Diasporas. Leslie’s second documentary film, Finding Aumont Whitaker premiered at Durham’s Hayti Heritage Film Festival in 2017. 

Her current film project, JIG SHOW, was selected for sponsorship and funding from The Southern Documentary Fund, ITVS’ Diversity Development Fund, Cucalorus’ Work in Progress Program, The Sundance New Frontier Lab, and Filmed in NC. The film is part of a larger multimedia documentary project called The Harlem in Havana Project in which Leslie aims to revive Harlem in Havana’s rich entertainment history. 

Leslie is a member of Film Fatales, a non-profit which advocates for parity in the entertainment industry and supports women directors; Brown Girls Doc Mafia, an initiative advocating for women and non-binary people of color working in the documentary film industry; and, Soka Gakkai International, Buddhism in Action for Peace. Leslie is committed to mentoring young filmmakers and artists. 

Read Leslie’s Artist Statement

Leslie in the press

Contact Leslie

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FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY

“Yo Amo Cuba” Series

In 2018, Leslie traveled to Havana, Cuba and captured photographs in the vibrant city. In her art photography series, “Yo Amo Cuba”, Leslie experiments with the pop art technique as a way to call attention to her subjects. The art photography series includes the following:

AVAILABLE IN PRINT “Havana Man” Photography Art by Leslie Cunningham – As I walked the streets of downtown Havana, I came across a wonderful man sitting alone playing sweet old melodies from his flute. This photograph captures the moment I fell in love…with the city and with this wise Havana man.

Cristo de La Habana Photography Art by Leslie Cunningham  – On a hilltop, overlooking the bay, sits “The Christ of Havana, Cristo de La Habana, a large sculpture representing Jesus Christ. In this piece, I honor the breathtaking work created in 1953 by Cuban sculptor Jilma Madera, which symbolizes the country’s deep religious culture of Christianity.

“A Cuban Classic” Photography Art by Leslie Cunningham – I’ve always loved classic cars and car shows, so my visit to Cuba was a dream come true! I literally stepped into a time capsule! Every street was lined with cars from the 1940s and 1950s -Chevrolets, Fords, Studebakers, you name it. This photograph pays homage to my love for these classic cars, and to Cuba for keeping them beautiful and running!

“El Musico” Photography Art by Leslie Cunningham – While visiting Havana, my family and I had a great opportunity to go to the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. After a long day of sightseeing, we got a chance to unwind by the bay and grab a cocktail in the hotel lounge. This vibrant photograph captures the trio of musicians who serenaded us with popular Cuban songs. I event got a chance to sit in and play the maracas!

“Liberta de Abastecimento” Photography Art by Leslie Cunningham – Milk…eggs…bread…these are all items in the U.S. we have come to consume often and can easily grab at the corner store. But if you live Cuba, you most likely live within food distribution system that establishes the amounts of subsidized rations each person is allowed to receive.  I took this photograph of a young man walking down the street with his rations.