The Second Annual Black Film Festival of New Orleans is this weekend, and the lineup has me singing songs of joy and praises! Out of all the events that have taken place in my absence, this one hit home. My heart and love for my NOLA Babies. I’m clicking my ruby red heels to get home this weekend to support my St. Roch Kids Krewe and the beautiful souls that makeup Making Connections NOLA.
I’m proud to announce that some of these short films come from the creative minds of New Orleans youngest aspiring filmmakers in New Orleans. The Black Film Festival of New Orleans will highlight talented youth from my neighborhood, Saint Roch, in the 8th Ward ya heard me! These brilliant young artists are students of the St. Roch Film Academy hosted by Making Connections New Orleans!
If only you could hear my spirit speak of the joy that I feel, then you would understand the degree of happiness that I am feeling. Months ago, the headlines in the media were filled with all things negative about our New Orleans youth. In St. Roch Social Media Community groups, there were numerous negative posts with pictures of our youth who were engaging in bad behavior. Still, there weren’t many comments directed toward helping our children. In my community, many programs were cut. But the few that were open did an excellent job keep the children engaged and supervised. And here’s the proof, and hopefully, the Saint Roch Community social media pages will be filled with this good news and that our neighbors will make it to the event to support our youth.
We have to show children, even our own, that we see them when they are doing good; we see their efforts and recognize and support their talents. Bad behavior shouldn’t be the only behavior that has a consequence. We need to show out and reward our children when they are doing well, even if it seems mediocre in our eyes.
I tell you I have witnessed St. Roch Youth faithfully walk into the doors of Saint Roch Community Church throughout the week. Children as young as five years old fill the small yellow church for various programs and services such as bible study, church, classes, after school programs, events, and the list goes on. The small congregation of St. Roch Community Church members, even lower staff at Making Connections New Orleans and volunteers are doing a fantastic job with assisting the parents of St. Roch with our children. The communities in New Orleans have drastically changed after Hurricane Katrina, and the effects of gentrification are seen everywhere. Still, in the neighborhood of St. Roch, we are fighting to keep the “It takes a Village Mentality,” and here’s a great example; youth from the Saint Roch Community being featured in the Black Film Festival New Orleans.
We must frequently express our thanks and appreciation to those who make a difference in our communities, especially children and do the little things that make each day better. At this time of the year and particularly at this time in our history, it’s even more important to speak these acknowledgments publicly. With that said, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Khalilah Vereable Collins and her Making Connections teammates for coming into our community, touching the lives of men and boys of color as well as the entire Saint Roch Community.
The mission of Making Connections NOLA is to facilitate a neighborhood driven, multi-organizational front to work toward mental health and the well-being of African-American men and boys in the St. Roch community.
It took for me to move back home and get involved in the media to find out that New Orleans is the stage for the production of epic Hollywood studio movies. New Orleans s the birthplace of greatness, the city of talented geniuses with so many praying be found by Mr.Hollywood. On any given day, there’s some sort of film, tv show, play, and all types of entertainment production going on right in the middle of our neighborhoods. I’m surprised that the Black of Film Festival is only in its second year??. But we made it, and it’s crucial that we not only continue it but ensure that we support and share the stories behind it to keep our culture alive.
In 2011 the Fractured Atlas said this, and after you read it, look at where we are now!
There is a need to bring the cinematic, cultural, and musical Black arts together on the same platform because all too often, we celebrate one while losing sight of the other. Just think of coming to New Orleans, the birthplace of Jazz, to enjoy the finest of new Black Films from all around the world, all vying for awards in their respective categories while discovering a real-life look into Black Culture and Heritage that you never knew existed. Not to mention, the food in New Orleans is pretty good too! Filmmakers, musicians, and cultural artists from all over the world will decent on New Orleans to interact and network, forming new partnerships and projects that will impact our arts and entertainment world.
Now back to the Black Film Festival of New Orleans!
BLACK FILM FESTIVAL OF NEW ORLEANS
BFFNO is a five-day celebration of independent films and filmmakers. Traditionally, filmmakers of color have a strong relationship with the film festival. Our most talented have all made their names with their independent work. Spike Lee, Ava Duvernay, Issa Rae, and many more charted their own path to mainstream success. The film festival is an incubator for filmmakers Hollywood hasn’t yet noticed.
Make no mistake, BFFNO’s goals are two-fold. We are here to celebrate the accomplishment of the film. It takes a lot of hands to complete a film or television project, and we’re focused on building a strong film community in New Orleans for today and beyond. We want our visiting filmmakers to feel at home, but we also want them to keep in mind what we have to offer for their future creative endeavors.
Our visiting filmmakers and our local community will both have the opportunity to witness the finest talent in New Orleans. The “Making Connections New Orleans Young Filmmakers Block” will showcase the work of aspiring filmmakers from around the city, including the first class of the St. Roch Film Academy. SRFA is an eight-week program, personally administered by Festival Director Gian Smith, to instruct in all the essential aspects of filmmaking and the subsequent fieldwork towards producing content. Three short films created by these young producers will premiere Saturday, December 14, during the young filmmaker’s block.
BFFNO will also spotlight some of New Orleans’s most talented. Along with our New Orleans filmmakers block, we’ll also have entertainment by local performers, field trips for the visiting filmmakers to Munch Factory for our Jazz brunch and awards show, and an African American themed French Quarter walking tour by KnowNOLA tours.
The best thing about BFFNO is that it is and will always be free and open to the public! We simply want the New Orleans film community to have the best opportunity to succeed. This is why your donations and ambassadorship are key.
The Stella Jones Art Gallery will be hosting a block of documentaries on Friday, December 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Afrofuture Night: an event featuring DJs, an alumni film competition and discussions with special guests, is occurring at the New Orleans African American Museum from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. that same day.
On Saturday, December 14, head to the Ashe Cultural Arts Center for 12 straight hours of events. Catch matinee film showings from 10 a.m. to noon “Making Connections: NOLA Young Filmmakers Block” from noon to 1 p.m. the “BFFNO Content Creators Block” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., a special artist talk segment with producer Monty Ross of “Do The Right Thing” and “Mo’ Better Blues” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., the “BFFNO New Orleans filmmakers Block” from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., a variety talent show presented by New Orleans Black Artists’ Society from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a four-hour block of BFFNO Primetime Films from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information, please visit http://novacvideo.org/black-film-festival-of-new-orleans/
Over the years, I received some backlash for my views and labeling of “Black New Orleans Culture.” I never would have thought that my attempt to be a bridge of understanding to the races in my community that I would be labeled myself. I wish I could be sorry and tell those of you that there is no need to be vocal about Black New Orleans Culture or Black anything because our story must finally be told and shared throughout the generations. The world is made up of different races, cultures, traditions, and life was different for all of us. Some of us were denied rights, and with that, one can only imagine now how our ancestors felt. I often find myself comparing priceless things to make my children understand how important it is to know their history. I made the comparison of a white bride handed down a wedding gown and jewelry that has been worn by a bride four generations prior. The mother of the bride surprises her with the dress kept in perfect condition in a keepsake box. She shares the story of the great great great grandmothers as they flip through an old photo album with the women dressed in the gown, and the story continues with the birth of a daughter. The black family can not say the same. I can remember the smell of a piece of white, old fabric, and old worn bible my grandmother kept on her dresser. My grandmother told me that the cloth was a piece of her grandmother’s (my great-great-grandmother) communion handkerchief, and she used it as page keeper for Psalms 91 in the bible that belonged to her mother, my great grandmother. Hurricane Katrina claimed these century-old heirlooms, as well as the after-effects, claimed my grandmother’s life. I have nothing but my memories. Blogging about my life is my way of not only documenting my life but sharing it with all of you. I want those of you who aren’t Black to at least attempt to feel comfortable with Blackness and know that you can be a part of it.
The Black Film Festival of New Orleans is needed not only for entertainment purposes but to tell the story through the eyes of those living in it. I am always asked questions about “New Orleans Life” most people, tourists go off what is presented to them by the tourism industry, but there’s so much more behind the lens of New Orleans. In all honesty, you can not experience New Orleans without interacting with Black New Orleanians.