Film Director Behind Netflix’s ‘Concrete Cowboy’ to Headline Art of Storytelling Conference

2/4/2022

Writer and director Ricky Staub's debut feature film, Concrete Cowboy, starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on Netflix in April. Palm Beach Atlantic’s Art of Storytelling conference returns this year, with award-winning writer and film director Ricky Staub as keynote speaker. The conference’s theme is Stories that Heal.

The conference is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 18 & Saturday, Feb. 19 on the University’s West Palm Beach campus. The keynote is 7 p.m. Friday in the DeSantis Family Chapel, 300 Okeechobee Boulevard.

In addition to Staub, presenters include author and speaker Stephanie Cassatly, counseling psychologist Sarah Claire Smith, biblical storyteller and PBA professor Dr. Kathy Maxwell, PBA professor of communication and media ecology Dr. Stephanie Bennett, and a panel of PBA Doctor of Nursing Practice students: Christopher Kilburn, Destin “Raine” Prather and Bianca Gonzalez. View the full schedule here.

“This is our first conference since the onset of the pandemic, and the theme, Stories that Heal, couldn’t be more timely,” said Dr. Jenifer Elmore, conference coordinator. “The theme reflects our belief in the power of stories to connect and reconnect us to one another.”

Staub’s debut feature film, Concrete Cowboy, starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on Netflix in April. Staub also founded Neighborhood Film Company, a production company that employs adults returning home from incarceration. 

Previously, Staub received critical acclaim for his short film, The Cage, which won the grand prize for Best Narrative Short at the Heartland Film Festival and qualified for Academy Award consideration. Variety  magazine named him one of 10 Directors to Watch. 

“I’ve had the privilege of teaching Ricky Staub, directing him in plays, and executive producing an award-winning student film he wrote and starred in,” said Dr. Thomas Parham, who serves on the Art of Storytelling planning committee. “Before graduating from college, he told me he was excited to see what the future had in store for both of us. Ricky’s success since then is a testament to God’s blessings and grace for those who are faithful to follow His leading.”

Stephanie Cassatly's book, Notice of Release: A Daughter's Journey to Forgive Her Mother's Killer, won a Nautilus Book Award.Staub is joined by Cassatly, who authored the memoir Notice of Release: A Daughter’s Journey to Forgive Her Mother’s Killer. When Cassatly was 18, her mother was shot and killed in a store robbery in New Orleans. Twenty years later, she found her mother’s killer and forgave him while he served a life sentence in the notorious Angola State Penitentiary. Her memoir, published in 2017, received a Nautilus Book Award.

Cassatly is a contributor to The Forgiveness Project, an international nonprofit storytelling group. She speaks publicly on the topic of forgiveness and restorative justice. 

Maxwell, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at PBA, is a certified biblical storyteller through the Network of Biblical Storytelling. She has published research on performance criticism, narrative and rhetoric in the gospels and Acts, orality and the powerful effect of telling biblical stories.

Maxwell will present a story on Friday evening before Staub’s talk. Embodying the words of the Bible is life-giving for Maxwell, and she prays for the people who hear the stories she tells.

Photo 1: Writer and director Ricky Staub's debut feature film, Concrete Cowboy, starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival and was released on Netflix in April. 

Photo 2: Stephanie Cassatly's book, Notice of Release: A Daughter's Journey to Forgive Her Mother's Killer, won a Nautilus Book Award.

Sign up for the conference here if you are a member of the community. Sign up for the conference here if you are a PBA student, staff or faculty member.