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SUNDANCE 2014 | @AFFRM DELEGATION JOURNAL

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An active team of @AFFRM Mavericks from Los Angeles and Philadelphia bundled up and boarded flights en route to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival 2014. Together, they formed our 2014 @AFFRM Sundance Delegation. Here, they share the highlights of their trek and favs from the fest.

Name: Julia Brewer
Occupation: Women's Health Nurse Practitioner
@AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

DIFERET directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari

Amharic with English subtitles, 2014, 99 minutes, color, Ethiopia

Synopsis: Three hours outside of Addis Ababa, a bright 14-year-old girl is on her way home from school when men on horses swoop in and kidnap her. The brave Hirut grabs a rifle and tries to escape, but ends up shooting her would-be husband. In her village, the practice of abduction into marriage is common and one of Ethiopia’s oldest traditions.

I was able to screen "Difret" thanks to Philly Mav Stephanie Malson (Who had a better position on the wait list than I did). I screened 2 films at The Egyptian Theater saw the majority of each, but missed the endings of both due to time constraints. Difret was excellent & I highly recommend it! A Woman's work is never done, so many modern day atrocities cloaked in "tradition" abound globally. This film provided that stark reminder.

Favorite Panel: 

Financing Film @The_Blackhouse (Our Chief #Renegade did some Myth busting) 

Favorite Restaurant: 

Butcher's Chop House & Bar 751 Main St. Park City, UT "Shrimp & Grits" I wish I had some right now 😃

Favorite Sundance Experience: 

LA Mavs riding the shuttle heading to @The_BlackHouse after meeting w/ Ava & a Sistah sitting a few seats behind me & directly across from Tekquiree taps T & shows her a cell phone screen shot of all of us & Ava & asks her is this you...the Sistah was Stephanie Allain, Ava had shared our moment w/ her...#onlyatSundance #OnlyAFFRM. Oh & meeting Jay Ellis at The Black House! My experiences were really too numerous to count, it was just Awesome!

Would you recommend Sundance?

Film Festival to other aspiring filmmakers/film lovers & why: I highly recommend attending Sundance w/ an awesome group of people after advance planning. Get a tix pkg or pre purchase tix! We met so many wonderful people & it was the best place for networking. Our weekend orbited the Black House a staple for us melanin rich individuals! I will definitely be attending in the future! Sundance carries a potent aroma of inspiration! Go & be inspired. 

 

Name:  Angela McCrae
Occupation:  Coordinator/Freelance Writer
AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

FINDING FELA (only film I saw)

Favorite Restaurant: 

Toss up between The Blackhouse Foundation brunch & FREE Morning Star all weekend.

Favorite Sundance Experience:

Connecting with Ava Duvernay at our meet up and getting to know her on a personal level - getting the scoop on some her most publicized projects.  Also meeting TONS of great, inspiring people that were so welcoming and professional.

Would you recommend Sundance? 

YES!  Great films, great people and great brand placement.  The experience allows you to see things differently and be surrounding by creative people and the executives that support their art which allows deals to be made and new ways to bring your passion into existence.

Name: Nichole Aliece Celistan
Occupation: Producer/Production Manager
AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

FINDING FELA

Favorite Panel:

Women - Provoking Change, Empowering Film

Favorite Restaurant:

Butcher's Shop

Favorite Sundance Experience:

AFFRM Delegation Meeting & Blackhouse Panels and Parties

Would you recommend Sundance:

Yes, I would definitely recommend Sundance Film Festival to other aspiring filmmakers/film lovers & why: If you're a lover of films I would definitely recommend attending Sundance. You're able to see films before they open in theaters and attend numerous panels where you can obtain insightful information. While at Sundance, my sister and I met two people who may be able to help us find funding for our documentary. It was a life changing experience for us and spending the weekend with six likeminded AFFRM Mavericks was amazing.

Name: Kenya McDonald
Occupation: Writer/Producer/Production Accountant
AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

HELLIUM

Favorite Restaurant:

Butcher's Shop on Main Street

Favorite Sundance Experience:

My favorite experience was the Affirm Mavericks meeting with Ava. Being my first time meeting her she was so very down to earth and warm spirited. Just great energy all the way around. It made me realize no matter how big you become in the industry you can still be true to yourself and remain humble. My second favorite experience was watching the time like a hawk in order to go onto the Sundance app and try and be waitlisted for upcoming screenings. A little on the edge wondering which waitlist number you were going to get, but worth it once you saw the actual movie.

Would you recommend Sundance?

I would absolutely recommend it. The energy, the people, the screenings were very inspiring. There wasn't a person there who wasn't pleasant and forthcoming with helpful information. Everyone had the same agenda...to succeed as a filmmaker (or help someone succeed) no matter what role you play in it. The connections I made I truly value and will make sure I keep in touch and cultivate those relationships. It was filmmaking at its finest and that is an experience that every filmmaker should experience at least once.

Name: Nakisha Celistan
Occupation: Producer
AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

FINDING FELA

Favorite Panel:

New Media and how it relates to your film

Favorite Restaurant:

Blackhouse

Favorite Sundance Experience:

Networking and meeting other filmmakers

Would you recommend Sundance?

I would definitely recommend "the dance" to aspiring filmmakers/film lovers. I have never experienced a community of so many different cultures who spoke through a form an expression that touched so many issues and ideas. I was amazed by so many creative minds and literally in heaven. I plan to go every year moving forward.

Name: Tekquiree Chenell
Occupation: Actress/Producer
AFFRM Maverick Branch: Los Angeles

 

Favorite Film @ Sundance:

Wow! Do I really have to pick one? Can I pick one per category? DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, HELLION and FINDING FELA

Favorite Panel:

Film Finance Panel (ish got real) :-)

Favorite Restaurant:

Black House. I loved the free food and drinks. Plus, it felt like home and it was also the meeting/party spot.

Favorite Sundance Experience:

Hanging with my girls, Philly Mavs and Ms. Ava DuVernay

Would you recommend Sundance?

Absolutely! I finally felt I belonged, there was no fakeness, the energy was infectious and I was inspired the entire time.

AUTHENTICITY, BIOGRAPHY, AND RACE: A CRITIQUE OF THE 2013 FILM FESTIVAL CIRCUIT

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Authenticity, Biography, and Race: A critique of the 2013 Film Festival Circuit

By Roya Zahra Rastegar

As a festival curator and scholar, I constantly grapple with the tension of how to talk or write about films that have yet to—or may never—reach broader audiences. The intention of this article is twofold: first, to highlight films that have circulated through domestic film festivals in the first half of 2013 and are relevant to American studies scholars working on questions of race, sexuality, gender, and national identity; and second, to raise a concern with the conditions in which films about race gain visibility, and the limits these conditions pose for the recognition and future development of a more capacious independent film culture.

Let me begin with a word about the significance of film festivals for independent film culture. The ability for independent films to gain broad visibility or “break out” to national audiences is subject to the curatorial selections of high-profile film festivals (in North America, this includes Telluride, Toronto, Sundance, South by Southwest, Tribeca, Seattle, San Francisco International, and the L.A. Film Festival, among others). Based on the decisions of individual festival programmers, filmmakers gain access to a festival platform and an audience of critics, sales agents, and distributors. Selected films also become part of a framework in which film professionals and press identify “trends” around popular culture and society as they manifest in films. Identifying a larger trend lends further value and relevance to a few key films—among thousands made each year—which are posited as reflective of not only current film culture, but also shifts in public opinion and thought.

So it is interesting when the current proliferation of biographical documentaries about intellectual and political leaders working around questions of race, culture, and social justice is not called out as a “trend.” In the past year, these include Shola Lynch’s Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, Jason Osder’s Let the Fire Burn, Stephen Vittoria’s Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal, Frieda Mock’s Anita, Ava DuVernay’s Venus Vs., Pratibha Parmar’s Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Whoopi Goldberg’s Moms Mabley: I Got Somethin’ to Tell You, Bill Siegal’s Trials of Mohammad Ali, and Marina Zenovich’s Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic.1 Are these documentaries reflective of a cultural shift in how race is being engaged in society?2 Or do these films signal a popular recognition of the contributions of Black intellectual thought and cultural formations to our contemporary society? The curious disregard of thinking about these documentaries together precludes a sustained investigation and analysis necessary to address these questions. Further obscured are how these documentaries challenge conventions of biography and expectations of authenticity in order to create more expansive contexts for how the lives of people of color are read on-screen.  

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ESSAY

MY 'DATE' WITH MR. SIDNEY POITIER

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A walk through history, with Mr. Poitier. Words that immediately come to mind to describe the Man himself: Classy. Graceful. Intelligent. Worldly. Gracious. Engaging. Funny. Open. Warm. Charismatic. Giving. Humble. Brilliant. Beautiful. He is a total Gem and frankly, a poster boy for the phrase, “Black don’t crack!” In his 80’s now, he was virile, vibrant, full of contained energy. Intensely interested and intensely interesting. Mr. Poitier gave the feeling that we were family hanging out and sharing stories. That we’d known each other forever. He created an environment of comfort. He is Graciousness walking. And I am grateful that I had a chance to meet and get a glimpse inside the spirit of The Man himself, after being so moved by his work all of these years.

MUSIC SCORE BY MILES DAVIS

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What filmmaker wouldn't want to have "Music Score by Miles Davis" in their credits? In 1958 the French film ELEVATOR IN THE GALLOWS directed by Louis Malle got such a credit.  Watch the musical brilliance of Miles Davis in the clip below as he improvises his score for the film.