Thursday, June 4, 2009

Someone asked me so long ago, why was there even a need for "Black" film festivals.  I answered that the film market still seems to forget that the world is made up of many stories, and that universal stories can be told from the vantage point of any human capable of experiencing it...thus making it universal.  We need places where it is alright not to be one of the boyz in tha hood, no disrespect to those who are.  In so many festivals, a brown face on the screen means marginalization, generalization, and the assumption that whatever story that brown face portrays couldn't possibly be one to which the average non-brown face could relate.  Sometimes, white festival programmers and directors just don't see us as individuals.

Just before I left Chicago, I received a photo from the director of a festival I screened The Hands at a couple of months ago.  The envelope was addressed to me...the only Black filmmaker at this particular festival.  To my surprise, the envelope contained a picture of the only other Black women to attend the festival besides myself and my daughter. I will post the pic of the women and a pic of my daughter and I when I get back to Chicago.  I will let you be the guest as to how far we have come in truly seeing each other...or not.

Hollywood Black Film Festival

Yesterday, sat in on sessions with "The Guilds"--SAG, WGA, DGA.  Tons of info, especially helpful for indie filmmakers who may utilize the low-budget agreements.   Also loved the panel with Antwone Fisher (Training Day 2),  Preston Whitmore (This Christmas), Rockmond Dunbar (Pastor Brown), Brett Dismuke (VP-Acquisitions, One Village Entertainment).  Lots of talk about the changing face of distribution due to the folding of major video sale outlets such as Coconuts and Blockbuster, and the move to digitization of film download as the consumer-driven way to view film at home and on the go.  There was also a very important lesson for filmmakers, as shared by a screenwriter who, early on in his career, chose to negotiate his own distribution deal...only to lose out on all of the international revenue for his film, which was also the only real revenue that his movie had.  I doubt anyone in the room will be repeating that one, thanks to his willingness to share his bumps along the way.

I stopped today to tell Tanya Kersey, the Director of the festival, what an incredible job she and her staff have done in organizing the festival.  Everyone is so happy to be here, and thoroughly enjoying the panels, the films, and meeting other filmmakers.  She responded that the filmmakers are the stars of the HBFF.  It's a treat for folks like me who love what they do, and appreciate the appreciation.  I am getting really excited and nervous, anticipating Saturday's screening.  I hope people show up!

Almost forgot!  I will be taking The Hands to San Francisco July 17-19 for the International Black Women's Film Festival.  Sooooo honored to be one of only four shorts chosen for this wonderful, necessary film festival.  Stay tuned...