BLACKSTAR FILM FESTIVAL
Earlier this month, two of our youth producers and their films were accepted into the Blackstar Film Festival in Philadelphia, PA. Blackstar celebrates “visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global indigenous communities, showcasing films by black people from around the world”. Wide Angle’s 2018 theme was, “Why Black Lives Matter”, so we felt right at home! I had the honor of escorting two lovely, long-time youth producers -- once, my students -- on this trip full of new creative content and networking opportunities. We are grateful to festival coordinators for their commitment to making it accessible and welcoming to young film makers, and for ensuring that we could attend the conference - thank you for the opportunity! - Safiyah, Wide Angle Instructor
On August 4th, I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my classmate Joelle and instructor Ms. Safiyah to attend Blackstar Film Festival, where my short film was screened. The experience was so new to me, but it wasn’t as intimidating as I had anticipated. The trip to Philadelphia was a bit nerve wracking because I knew I would be among so many talented people and I really hoped they would like my video. When we arrived, we received VIP passes and gift bags filled with a lot of cool things. Afterwards we traveled to where the youth videos were being screened and my video was played first! All of the youth creators answered questions from the host and the audience.
I am usually an extremely nervous person when it comes to public speaking, but the energy in the room was so welcoming and comforting. I felt more comfortable speaking into that crowd than any other crowd I’ve spoken to before - they were supportive and everyone was excited to see what we had to offer! It was inspirational to see the things that the other creators around my age had made as well. I came out of the screening wanting to create more just to be back at BlackStar next year. -Ayanna, “Black Stories Matter” Producer
I was all around excited to attend the Black Star Film Festival and there was no point in time when my excitement dropped. This was mainly because this film festival was in another city and state -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! The session that was showing our films was at 11 o’clock so we made our way over to the building where they were being shown. Ours were the first to show. I enjoyed the other films and there were some that I could really identify with. The LGBT films that were screened were the ones that I liked the most because I really think it is time for Black LGBT youths to have a voice, which they did at this festival. After all the videos, it was time for the Q&A with us young filmmakers. I was so nervous even though this was not my first time speaking in front of people or as an artist on a panel.
Overall, I had a pretty fun time and I got to talk to really cool people. I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I usually do and I think it had something to do with the audience. The people in the crowd were so warm and inviting and a lot of them were youth producers like me so I was a bit more comfortable talking to them. For the older people in the room, you could tell they were not just there to support their child and leave; They were actually engaged with the films shown and the kids that they didn’t even know. So I am happy that I was able to attend this film festival; I have to say that it is the best one I have attended so far. - Joelle, “Void” Producer
It was so rewarding to see Ayanna and Joelle experience their films in a new environment and with a new set of eyes. I am grateful for the opportunity to create memories outside of our usual office setting. Seeing our youth producers become better artists and speakers --in real time-- is one of the many pleasures of instructing. It is times like these that remind me of the importance of instructors’ long-term commitment and the Wide Angle pathway aimed at keeping students involved. Victories like these instill confidence in our young people and motivate them to continue in their creative paths. - Safiyah, Wide Angle Instructor