This year, the festival, founded by Natalie Morrow eight years ago, brought with it a dynamic opening-night film produced by Effie T. Brown entitled, The Inheritance. This project is one of a few Black horror films which stars Golden Brooks, Darrin Dewitt Henson and Shawn Michael Howard. The feature was made here in Stillwater, MN in 2008.
Apart from the usual exploration of urban Hollywood’s best, this year’s festival put an emphatic lens on local talent, which paved footprints towards tomorrow’s greatest filmmakers and their majestic works that gave cause for celebration.
Tye Green, Lee Jordan and Keelia Washington were on hand to supply the festival with unique pieces that covered a diverse scope of understanding, while also kneeling to the universal voice within all of us.
Green premiered her television series TH3M to audiences on the festival’s closing night, and was welcomed by a unanimous applause for her pivotal piece that explores the lives of six dramatically diverse women in the LGBT community.
“I wanted it to be seen by a vast majority of African Americans because I feel that often times our community has a preconceived notion of what being lesbian or gay is,” said Green, “I think my film does an incredible job of shedding a defining light on the reality that apart from our sexual orientation, we all love, cry and bleed the same way. We are all people at the end of the day.”
TH3M was produced by Angela Barrett, and the film stars many of our local up and coming artists including Chantel SinGs Katana Matthews, and Constance Anderson.
Lee Jordan spent years working for a local casting agency, Walden Entertainment, which put him in the center of some of Minnesota’s finest productions. When he participated in filmmaking competition presented by the Minneapolis Public Library system he discovered his calling as a writer and director and this, he said, lead to the creation of his film entitled We Turn The Page.
“I have 30 grand nieces and nephews who need to learn about their family history as well as their African American history. To me, making films would give me the opportunity to share that with them in a way that would be entertaining and educational and inspire them to do something positive with their lives,” Jordan said.
“With my film, We Turn The Page, I wanted to show audiences a part of our history that gave focus to a time when African American’s weren’t allowed to read, or even go to a library. We’ve come far, and are continuing to meet our challenges with a positive response. Sharing these stories gives us a foundation, and with foundation brings self-esteem. Having a healthy self esteem, and being able to see how you fit into the big picture in life will help us grow and move in the right direction,” he said.
Adhering to the same defining angles, Keelia Washington presented her directorial debut by showcasing her film, , a poignant piece draped in poetry, about one woman’s struggle to pick up the pieces of her heart and keep her relationship in balance, after miscarrying a child. The film stars actress Chenea Love Green and local hip hop artist Kevin Kaoz Moore.
“I wanted to do a piece that encompassed spoken word poetry and also examined the inner struggle a woman and a man go through after a miscarriage,” Washington explained. “I have friends who have had miscarriages and I wanted to help build awareness on the subject, as well as produce a piece that explored the emotional road of how one copes with and overcomes such a tragedy.”
With a balance of genres and an array of dynamic pieces, this year’s festival was by far one of the best since its inception. Natalie Morrow should be commended for her continued efforts of fostering the endeavors of Black filmmakers and their desire to tell the world their stories.
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