Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Films continues with "Little Satchmo” on Nov. 9

Nov 1, 2023Dalton Bright
Little Satchmo

Sharon Preston-Folta holds a photo of her father Louis Armstrong. Preston-Folta spent over five decades of her life not being able to share the truth of who her father was.

Hanceville, AL — The second of five films in the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Films to be shown at Wallace State Community College may pique your interest even if you aren’t a fan of jazz music.  

Emmy Award-winning documentary “Little Satchmo” tells the story of Sharon Preston-Folta, the daughter of Louis Armstrong, and how her life was a secret to the public for over 50 years.   

Louis Armstrong is known globally as a representation of musical brilliance, unmatched accomplishment and unwavering character. His trumpeting prowess paired with his wholesome image made him a household name. In public, Armstrong aimed to put on an unforgettable show for anyone, but when it came to his personal life, he kept things private. Perhaps the most private of these was a child whom he hid from the world. 

The acclaimed PBS film “Little Satchmo” outlines the life of total secrecy lived by Preston-Folta. The documentary is based on her memoir of the same title where she reveals her identity as the offspring of a love affair spanning two decades between Armstrong and Harlem-based dancer Lucille “Sweets” Preston.  

Throughout the 1960s, Armstrong mailed letters and cassette tape recordings of his voice to Preston and his then-secret daughter. “Little Satchmo” features a selection of these intimate conversations as well as thoughts from Preston-Folta herself. She shares her own feelings of love and hope, resentment and disappointment to display the complex family dynamics between her and her father. The documentary resonates with themes such as family, identity, race and belonging. 

Armstrong was a present and integral figure in his daughter’s life but mention of their relationship never went farther than immediate family.  

“Publicly flaunting a child fathered with his mistress wasn’t exactly an option for Louis Armstrong,” said Preston-Folta in the film’s trailer. “He always wanted to be a father, but we had to keep it all secret.”   

The film made its premiere in Armstrong’s hometown of New Orleans in March 2022. The film is narrated by New Orleans-native John Boutté and features original music from Grammy Award-winning composer Eddie Korvin. Shown globally, “Little Satchmo” has picked up top prizes in France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the USA.  

Little Satchmo FilmmakersDirector John Alexander and producer JC Guest are scheduled to attend the screening on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m. in the Bailey Center Auditorium. 

Alexander and Guest previously created “This Is Love,” a documentary about the life of soul singer Rudy Love that won the Raindance Spirit Award in 2018.  

View the movie trailer here: 

Other films scheduled in the series include:  

  •  “Butterfly in the Sky” on Feb. 15  
  •  “Master of Light” on March 14  
  •  “Hollow Tree” on April 18 

All films are free and open to the public. They are an extension of Wallace State’s Burrow Museum offerings in conjunction with Wallace State Student Engagement. 

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