I’m back in the film swing of things and it feels good. Things slowed down at work during August, so I took the opportunity to develop my networking skills and plan for the future (I admit I am a closet type-A personality). After attending the NBC Universal Short Film Festival and being blown away by the creative, well-acted, and brilliantly shot films that focused on everything from a lovers’ quarrel to police brutality, I connected with one of the filmmakers, who is a family friend. She gave me the real, honest pep talk I needed and pushed me to set a serious timeline for finishing my documentary.
Around the same time, a few weeks ago, I decided to answer a call for volunteers for the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival. I joined their mailing list after my senior thesis film, In Plain Sight, was screened at the festival in 2014. Though I wasn’t able to make the festival since I was in Italy, my family raved about the wonderful time they had; I decided I had to attend this year and reached out about volunteering. I’m currently leading the social media effort, posting about the film screenings, panels, and awards ceremony, along with pre-festival promotional events. In addition to learning how to use Facebook, Twitter, and Hootsuite for professional purposes, I have enjoyed meeting with the Reel Sisters team – a group of phenomenal black women who are creatives – and hearing their ideas on how to make the festival a resounding success.
One of the biggest perks, undoubtedly, is getting a chance to see the films before the festival in October. I have been amazed by the talent and breadth of the selections, all of which are either produced, directed, or written by a woman of color, with many of the filmmakers wearing two or more of those hats.The stories told are truly diverse, from a short about an allergy prone-child who imagines a chef that fights GMOs to a documentary about the fight for better health services for HIV positive residents in rural South Carolina. As this blog is a testament to, I am a passionate champion for diversity of representation, both in front of and behind the camera. Diversity is at the core of my cinematic interests and I’m thrilled to be a part of a festival that has been advancing that agenda for 19 years.
If you’re interested in attending the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival or want to learn more, check out the Reel Sisters website. The festival tickets are affordable and there are multiple pre-festival screenings which give you a taste of the festival – for free.
Photo: Still from the short film “Amenze,” a Reel Sisters 2016 official selection