Last week, I was invited on an all-expenses paid trip to Hollywood for the 23rd Annual African-American Film Marketplace and S.E. Manly Short Film Showcase. At their Youth Diversity Short Film Festival, I showed a Gandhi Brigade Documentary I worked on, entitled To Serve and Protect. The film festival was put on by the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center. Founded in 1996 by Sandra Evers-Manly, BHERC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of blacks in film and television.
Opening Night- “A Great Day in Black Hollywood”
The first event we attended was “A Great Day in Black Hollywood,” where past and current filmmakers were honored, and the weekend’s festival was introduced. Nate Parker (Birth of a Nation) was in attendance, and he presented an award to Preston Holmes, who was the Associate Producer of Hustle and Flow, among other notable projects. Street Corner Renaissance performed a tribute to one of the award winners, Lillian Benson; Anthony Richardson performed a monologue; and XclusiveMovement danced. That event was a great way to open the weekend.
Youth Diversity Short Film Festival
Saturday morning was kicked off with the Youth Diversity Short Film Festival. After being interviewed on the red carpet, we showed our film, and answered questions. There were many wonderful youth films shown, my favorite (other than ours) of which was named Daisy, by Hands4Hope LA. Hands4Hope LA provides support to at-risk youth ages 8 to 18 from low-income, predominantly minority households, and gives them creative outlets and skills for the future.
An Evening of with Films With A Purpose
This event was on Saturday night, and it premiered two short films, and showed an encore presentation of another. We dressed up to view the films, and watched all of the wonderful directors, writers, actors, and actresses up on stage, proud of their exquisite work, and basking in their blackness.
Wild Roots by Terrell Wormley, Writer/Director
Wild Roots was my favorite of the three films, although the production quality was not as impressive overall. The film focuses on the life of a young reformed gang member, who is just recently out of jail. He wants to change his life around; but his old life holds a strong force over him.
Child Support by Alcee Walker, Writer/Director
Child Support was my second favorite film. Loosely based off the 2016 death of Amy Joyner-Francis, the film revolves around a young girl who is continuously bullied. It highlights how young girls struggle to find emotional outlets in adolescence, and sometimes find it through violence.
Forgiveness by Satie Gossett, Writer/Director
Forgiveness had excellent cinematography. In Forgiveness, the President of the United States holds an essay contest, in which he will grant one wish. He ends up formally apologizing for slavery to the people of the United States.
I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to travel to Los Angeles, and I would also recommend watching all of these films, not only to support the filmmakers and BHERC, but also to support black art.