The story of “Booker’s Place”

In 1965, filmmaker Frank De Felitta made a documentary film for NBC News about the changing times in the American South and the tensions of life in the Mississippi Delta during the civil rights struggle. The film was broadcast in May of 1966 and outraged many Southern viewers, in part, because it included an extraordinary scene featuring a local African-American waiter named Booker Wright. Wright, who worked at a local “whites only” restaurant in Greenwood MS, went on record to deliver a stunning, heartfelt and inflammatory monologue exploding the myth about who he was and how he felt about his position serving the local white community. The fallout for Booker Wright was extreme: He lost his job, and was beaten and ostracized by those that considered him “one of their own.” Forty-five years after Booker’s television appearance, Frank De Felitta’s son, director Raymond De Felitta, takes a journey into the Mississippi Yazoo Delta with Booker Wright’s granddaughter in search of who Booker Wright was, the mystery surrounding his courageous life and untimely murder, and the role Frank De Felitta’s NBC News documentary may have played in it.

“Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story,” boasts a 100% critic’s rating on RottenTomatoes.com and was the subject of a full Dateline NBC broadcast hosted by Lester Holt entitled, “Finding Booker’s Place” which can be viewed here.

THE FILMMAKERS

Directed by
Raymond De Felitta

Produced by
David Zellerford, p.g.a.

Co-producer
Yvette Johnson

Executive Producer
Steven C. Beer

Executive Producer
Lynn Roer

Production Manager
Moitri Ghosh

Assistant Director
Dion Matthews

Associate Producer
Nicki Newburger

Post-Production Supervisor
Alessandra Bellizia

Photographed by
Joe Victorine

Edited by
George Gross

Location Sound
Orion Gordon

Research
Yvette Johnson
Dr. Kathryn Green

Additional Photography
Joe Russell
Michael Mayers
Graham Willoughby

Music Supervisor
John Scheaffer

Original Score
David Cieri

Colorist
Ron Sudul

RAYMOND DE FELITTA

Raymond De Felitta’s films have been honored at international film festivals and hailed by critics. His short film “Bronx Cheers” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1991. “City Island” and “Two Family House” both won Audience Awards, at the Tribeca Film Festival (2009) and Sundance Film Festival (2000) respectively.  His debut feature, “Café Society” premiered in Directors Fortnight at Cannes (1996). His first documentary, “Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris” premiered to wide acclaim at Sundance, 2007 and his second documentary, “Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story”, which premiered at Tribeca in 2012, was the subject of a full one-hour episode of Dateline NBC. In 2014 he directed “Rob The Mob”. In 2016 he directed “Madoff”, the four-hour ABC miniseries about financier Bernard Madoff starring Richard Dreyfuss, for which he was nominated for a Directors Guild Of America award for Best Director of a Mini-Series. In 2018 he directed the baseball-themed drama “Bottom Of The 9th”, starring Sofia Vergara and Joe Mangienello. He is currently preparing to direct his own screenplay “The Artist In Residence” and hosts the historical film podcast, “Movies ‘Til Dawn” featuring in-depth interviews with legendary filmmakers. You can also find him on Twitter & YouTube.

DAVID ZELLERFORD

David Zellerford is a storyteller, mentor and digital media professional whose work has been seen and heard by millions of people. He formed Hangover Lounge, Inc., with creative partner Raymond De Felitta as a production company dedicated to digital feature-length works of non-fiction that includes “‘Tis Autumn: The Search For Jackie Paris” (Sundance) as well as “Booker’s Place” (Tribeca) and their current project, “An Untitled Film About The Actor Known As Burt Young”. In 2020, Hangover Lounge launched Hangover Lounge Podcasts with season one of its flagship show “Screenplay Resurrection”, a serialized production of their feature-length screenplay “Murdering Michael Malloy”. As the producer of award-winning content that includes feature films and branded content, his clients include agencies and consultancies, startups and Fortune 500 companies. As an entrepreneur, David is the producer behind several commercial and creative endeavors including SweetEye Pictures and a children’s book series, “The Positively Adventurous League”, helping children (and adults) build empathy and self-esteem. David is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America (documentary committee) and the Director’s Guild of America (commercials category).