DEI Documentary Spotlight, featuring ‘The Shadow Between Us’ (09/21/2022)

Thank you to everyone who joined Greater Cleveland Film Commission (GCFC) as we hosted our 2nd Annual DEI Documentary Spotlight series, featuring the film The Shadow Between Us, presented by Legacy Capital Partners.

The DEI Documentary Spotlight series is supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

Special thanks to our Community Sponsor Medical Mutual, and to our Screening Sponsors, McGowan PAE,  Mt. Zion Congregational Church, and Sequoia Financial Group.

Thank you to our event partners Brewnuts Donuts & Beer, Cleveland Cinemas, Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, Long Division Creative,  and ThirdSpace Action Lab.

How do people from different backgrounds and experiences come together and find healing when a traumatic event threatens to drive them further apart? This was the question the nation asked in 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

Dance artists around the world answered that question, using their art to start difficult conversations, encourage empathy, and help others find healing and community.

The collaboration between Cleveland’s Obadiah Baker and The Silhouettes (Golden Buzzer Act America’s Got Talent The Champions 2020 and First Runner-Up on AGT Season 6) led to THE SHADOW BETWEEN US, a film about overcoming racial tensions by healing the divide. Three-time Emmy® award-winning photojournalist and director Lance Murphey documented this partnership for the film.  Drawing on his background covering social and humanitarian issues, Murphey shares the story of Nehemiah Spencer, an award-winning professional dancer, and choreographer from Cleveland’s Glenville community.

The film tells the story of Nehemiah, a Black dancer trapped in a pandemic lockdown in Cleveland. He is asked to join a mostly white dance troupe in Colorado to create a silhouette-based dance performance that seeks solutions to police brutality in the killing of George Floyd. Nehemiah had given up dance but finds the courage to travel far from home to participate in the project. The resulting performance transforms all participants in unexpected ways, reinforcing that our shadows are all the same color and only light can drive out darkness.

During events spanning four days, GCFC’s annual DEI Documentary Spotlight series presented community screenings, panel discussions with the filmmakers, and workshops with students to encourage interest in filmmaking, documentary film, social issue storytelling, and Northeast Ohio.


THE SHADOW BETWEEN US  •  DEI Documentary Spotlight Premiere Screening
Capitol Theatre • 1390 W. 65th St., Cleveland, OH 44102
Wednesday, September 21st at  6:30 pm
All proceeds helped fund our DEI and education programs

The DEI Documentary Spotlight Premiere Screening and conversation with the filmmakers was held at the historic Capitol Theatre, located in Gordon Square Arts District. Immediately following the screening, director Lance Murphey was joined by executive producer and composer Obadiah Baker and Nehemiah Spencer, a native of Cleveland’s Glenville community and the subject of the film, for a moderated Q&A.

A post-screening reception was held at Brewnuts.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US  •  “Reel Education for Real Jobs” Education Outreach

Cleveland High School for Digital Arts
Thursday, September 22nd
**CMSD School for Digital Arts Students Only**

In conjunction with the GCFC FilmSkills 17-week training course held at the Cleveland High School for Digital Arts, clips from THE SHADOW BETWEEN US were screened for the participating class, followed by a discussion with the filmmakers regarding technical processes of documentary filmmaking and unique behind-the-scenes insights and challenges that went into the making of the film during the pandemic.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US  •  Community Screening with Filmmaker Q&A
GCFC partners with The Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival to present a Community Screening
Mt. Zion Congregational Church • 10723 Magnolia Dr., Cleveland, OH 44106
Thursday, September 22nd at 6:00 pm

In partnership with the Greater Cleveland Urban Film Festival, the Greater Cleveland Film Commission hosted a free screening for the community at the Mt. Zion Congregational Church, followed by a Q&A with director Lance Murphey, executive producer and composer Obadiah Baker, and professional dancer and subject of the film, Nehemiah Spencer.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US Live Director’s Commentary & Documentary Film Workshop

ThirdSpace Action Lab • 1464 E. 105th St., Cleveland, OH 44106
Saturday, September 24th at 8 am – 12 pm

The GCFC hosted a Live Director’s Commentary & Documentary Film Workshop with THE SHADOW BETWEEN US director Lance Murphey. This event was held at the ThirdSpace Action Lab and included a screening of the film, paused periodically to hear behind-the-scenes stories and filmmaking insights from the filmmakers, as well as audience Q&A. James D. Robenalt, author of the book “Ballots and Bullets: Black Power Politics and Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland” featured in the film joined the panelists, executive producer and composer Obadiah Baker, and the film’s subject, Nehemiah Spencer.


Lance Murphey, Director

Drawn to filmmaking as a photojournalist, director Lance Murphey’s first documentary film, “Nobody,” told the story of a homeless man running from his demons and finding grace in unlikely places. The film premiered at the prestigious Full Frame Film Festival and was featured on the Dr. Phil Show. Since then, Murphey has produced many short films and documentaries around the world, which have earned three Emmys, a national Addy and been honored by TED.COM as one of 20 Ads Worth Spreading in the World.

Murphey has chronicled many social and humanitarian issues throughout his career, including a years long project documenting a historic pattern of discrimination against Black farmers, which led to a billion dollar lawsuit against the USDA. Murphey’s photography has earned dozens of national and international awards, and his work has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post and all major media outlets.

A recent collaboration between Cleveland’s Obadiah Baker and The Silhouettes from America’s Got Talent, led to “The Shadow Between Us,” a film about overcoming police brutality and racism through healing the divide between black and white.

Murphey lives in Boulder, Colorado.


Obadiah Baker, Executive Producer & Composer

Obadiah Baker (b. 1981) is an American composer and film producer who draws inspiration from film soundtracks and life events. His music creates colorful, empathetic sound worlds that convey strong emotions of joy, sorrow, compassion, and struggle. He often juxtaposes rich harmonies and full orchestrations with passionate melodies and improvisation, reflecting his classical training at Interlochen Arts Academy and Black heritage as a gospel and jazz musician. His musical themes and documentary storylines typically touch on intersectionality, urging listeners and viewers to self-reflect to influence sustainable societal change.

Obadiah is the president and founder of Tender Heart Crusades, a 501c3 nonprofit that services at-risk youth through education and community service. Through his organization, he has made a name for himself as a global community leader, changing lives one note and film at a time. His recent film, The Shadow Between Us, premiered at the 2022 Toronto Black Film Festival, featuring a reduced theatrical version of his piece Winter about the COVID-19 global pandemic. This music won “Best Soundtrack” at the 2022 Shadow Film Festival in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The Bergamot Quartet recently performed the first and second movements—Kyiv and Lviv—of his string quartet Ukraine, centering on the Russo-Ukrainian War in Eastern Europe.

Obadiah has had his music performed by many professional and student ensembles, including, but not limited to, the New England Conservatory Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras, Prague Orchestra, Bergamot String Quartet, Popebama experimental music ensemble, and Rainey Institutes’ El Sistema. He has also produced four opera buffa short films—Connection Lost (The Tinder Opera), Something Blue (The Bachelor Opera), Someone Like Me (The Facebook Opera), and Rumspringawakening (The Amish Opera)—with filmmaker Adam Taylor of Galaxy454 studios. Current projects include the third and fourth movements of his string quartet Ukraine, a series of Libations short chamber works dedicated to great jazz saxophonists in history, Speechless (The Caveman Opera), an orchestral and choral arrangement of the State Anthem of Ukraine Shche ne vmerla Ukrainy i slava, i volia for an upcoming documentary film, and an arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing for Juneteenth.

Obadiah holds degrees in music (B.M.) from the New England Conservatory, studying with Danilo Perez, Fred Hersch, and Michael Gandolfi, a degree in business (M.B.A.) from the University of Arkansas Grantham, and currently a double-degree student (E.D.D. and M.M.) in leadership and management with a concentration in creativity and innovation at Drexel University and music composition at John Hopkins University’s Peabody Institute, studying with Sky Macklay and Kevin Puts. He is also a civil affairs commissioned officer in the United States Army Reserves, currently at the rank of Major (promotable). Recent awards include the Army’s Humanitarian Service Award for COVID-19 relief operations and the Fulbright Scholar award, where he will study the cross-cultural replication and power of shadow dance in Israel as a conflict resolution and global peace intervention technique, focusing on the interplay of Israeli Gaga and American shadow dance on Israeli Jewish students’ awareness of race and identity.
Obadiah now lives in downtown Baltimore, MD, where he continues to impact communities at home and worldwide through his music and films.


Nehemiah Spencer, Subject of the Film

Nehemiah Spencer is an award-winning professional dancer and choreographer from Cleveland, OH. A native of Cleveland’s Glenville community, infamous for the Glenville Shootout of 1968, Nehemiah attended the Cleveland School of the Arts (CSA), where he studied dance. Through overcoming the hardships of poverty and as a Black male dancer, Nehemiah followed his dreams to attend the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City. There, he earned a bachelor’s in fine arts in dance.

Upon graduating, Nehemiah performed as a dance soloist in the Broadway production of The Wiz, directed by Tony award-winning choreographer George Faison. He also traveled the world as a principal dancer with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and a principal with Abraham-in-Motion, under the direction of Kyle Abraham, a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant” Award. Moreover, he also worked with Cleveland dance icons like Dianne Mcintyre, Edna Duffy, and Reggie Kelly, to name a few. Nehemiah also recorded with Jill Scott in her music video Back Together. He also choreographed three musicals: Dreamgirls, 42nd Street, and Memphis. Nehemiah recently worked with America’s Got Talent 2020 Golden Buzzer Finalist, The Silhouettes, in a documentary film called The Shadow Between Us, directed by three-time Emmy Award-Winning filmmaker Lance Murphey and producer and composer Obadiah Baker. This film centers on healing the racial divide in America through shadow and light. This film premiered at the 2020 Toronto Black Film Festival and received numerous awards and screenings worldwide.

Since 2012, Nehemiah has served the Greater Cleveland community with his Nehemiah Project, a summer dance intensive that provided quality and affordable training for at-risk youth. Former Ohio Governor John R. Kasich also recognized Nehemiah in Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine. Today Nehemiah is the Director of Arts at Hope Academy Northwest, working with students from K-8. He also is the Director of Reflections Dance Theater, 2022 inaugural dance winners in the national competition How Sweet the Sound. Nehemiah looks to continue to share his love for dance, community, and teaching with the world and use his gifts as an instrument to propel society forward.

James Robenalt, Author

Author of four nonfiction books: Ballots and Bullets, Black Power Politics and Urban Guerrilla Warfare in 1968 Cleveland (2018); January 1973, Watergate, Roe v Wade, Vietnam, and the Month that Changed America Forever (2015); The Harding Affair, Love and Espionage During the Great War (2009); and Linking Rings, William W. Durbin and the Magic and Mystery of America (2004). Robenalt lectures nationally with John Dean, Nixon’s White House Counsel, on legal ethics and the legacy of Watergate. Together they have spoken to tens of thousands of lawyers across the country in one of the most acclaimed continuing legal education programs. Robenalt is a partner at the law firm of Thompson Hine LLP. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He has written extensively on the presidency, Article II, impeachment, Watergate, abortion and the Progressive Era. His great-grandfather was the register of the United States Treasury under President Franklin Roosevelt and also the first elected president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. He advocates for an Ohio Presidential Center. He speaks on racism and implicit bias.



The Greater Cleveland Film Commission is the only 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to driving job creation and economic impact by supporting a thriving and adaptive film and television industry in Northeast Ohio. Since 2009, media projects in Ohio have generated more than $1.2 billion in economic impact and created 6,192 full-time equivalent jobs, thanks to our work.

As a nonprofit, the GCFC doesn’t receive any proceeds from the productions that film here. Every dollar you donate directly impacts building a sustainable and lucrative industry that creates jobs in our region.

The GCFC presents events like this to bring people together and to help fund these programs:











All proceeds from this event series will help fund our D.E.I and education programs.