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Jewel Thais-Williams’ Timely ‘Jewel’s Catch One’ at Urbanworld Film Festival (EUR Exclusive)

jewel williams (b&w)
Jewel Thais-Williams, the subject of ‘Jewel’s Catch One’ at Urbanworld.

Jewel’s Catch One,” screens at the Urbanworld Film Festival, on September 24 (after two sold out Outfest screenings in Los Angeles) at the AMC Empire Theater in New York.

“Jewel’s Catch One” tells the story of Jewel Thais-Williams and her popular Jewel’s Catch One lesbian focused nightclub that was often called the Studio 54 of the West.

The club was a hub for cutting edge fashion and music for over 42 years in Los Angeles before it closed last year. In an exclusive interview with EURweb, Jewel and the film’s director C. Fitz talked about expectations and challenges:

What do you want audiences to walk away with after seeing the documentary?

C FITZ: First of all, they’re going to enjoy her amazing story and they’re going to be thoroughly entertained. It’s quite a ride. It’s a big history lesson. Jewel opened her doors to everyone—all races and sexual orientations—and the club became a target of racism and homophobia, especially during the AIDS crisis.

She even turned her parking lot into a soup kitchen during that time. Jewel became a civil rights leader, and has now saved countless lives through her Village Healthcare Foundation. So I hope some are inspired by her life and do more with their lives when they wake up the next morning.

jewel-hillary-rue
Jewel Thais-Williams, Hillary Clinton and Jewel’s wife, Rue Thais-Williams

Although this has been a 42-year journey for you, how relevant is this story today?

 JEWEL THAIS-WILLIAMS: The fights still go on, racism, the killing of African Americans, and homophobia.

Was the burning of your club a suspicious fire?

JTW: The fire started because of some of the same issues people have today. Certain groups wanted to have that neighborhood. If they couldn’t buy you out—and I wasn’t selling—the next thing was to burn you out.

What is one important thing you’ve learned over the years?

 JTW: Patience.

jewel thais-williams
Jewel Thais-Williams

What has been one of your challenges?

CF: My greatest challenge with this film was letting go of some of the stories because you only have an hour and half. It’s jam packed with great music, wonderful stories from politicians, celebrities, and patrons.

JTW: It’s has been to stay focused and keep my eye on what it is that the vision has given me when it comes to the good health and welfare of all people, regardless of their sexuality.

The film is narrated by  CCH Pounder and features interviews with Sharon Stone, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Thelma Houston, Sandra Bernhard, Bonnie Pointer, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Thea Austin, and Jenifer Lewis. There is also footage from Madonna’s 2000 album release party held there.

Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]

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