Film by SM East grad shown at KC FilmFest tonight; Amber Edwards has done long list of PBS documentaries

Amber Edwards
Amber Edwards

The Kansas City FilmFest tonight features a showing by a SM East graduate whose latest documentary is just one in a long list of accomplishments.

Amber Edwards directed the film “Vince Giordano: There’s A Future In The Past” which will be shown at 7:25 p.m. tonight at the Cinemark on the Plaza.

Edwards, 55, who has produced and directed a number of documentaries for PBS, calls her latest film a “true labor of love.” She has been following Giordano since the 1990s. “I was just enchanted by (the music). It was like stepping back into the past.” Giordano, a bandleader, historian and collecter, plays with his 11-member band, “The Nighthawks,” the music popular in the 1920s and ‘30s. “He really has kept this music alive,” Edwards said.

“I wanted to shine a light on somebody who is really unique.” Hipsters, Edwards said, are now discovering this music that is 90-years-old. “I (also) wanted to show how hard it is to be a working musician in the 21st Century.”

Edwards is a singer as well as a filmmaker. She had a chance to work with Giordano while performing as a singer in the long-running “Lyrics and Lyricists” series at the 92nd Street Y in New York. Her singing voice also can be heard on the Grammy Award winning soundtrack the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.”

Inspired by SM East teacher Dan Zollars, Edwards first intended singing to be her vocation when she graduated from SM East in 1978 and headed to Yale. “It is hard to overstate how important he (Zollars) was to me,” Edwards said. “His standards were so high.”

Edwards now lives with her husband, writer Justin Scott, in Newtown, Conn.