Previously synonymous with all things entertainment, Hollywood and Vine reclaimed its status last weekend becoming the intersection of culture and creativity as filmmakers from across the nation convened at the W Hotel for the 2012 Hollywood Black Film Festival, an annual 4-day celebration of Black Cinema. The area bustled with activity as actors, producers, writers and film enthusiasts moved between the host hotel and the Montalban Theater for movie screenings, master classes, networking opportunities and of course after parties.
“The Hollywood Black Film Festival is a once a year opportunity for Black Hollywood to come together as a community, comments Tanya Kersey, Founder and Executive Director. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of opportunity to do that unless of course you’re in the right clique, but this is a chance for all of us to come together screenwriters, filmmakers, producers and actors. No matter what level you’re on, you can come down to the festival network, mingle, learn, watch great cinema and be empowered and I think that’s really the beauty of the festival.”
Founded in 1998, the goal of the Hollywood Black Film Festival, is to expose independent films and filmmakers to industry executives, the media and the public, thereby playing an integral role in discovering new talent, enhancing the careers of established filmmakers and showcasing their works.
Consistent with its commitment to Black independent filmmakers, the 12th annual HBFF brought together an array of popular film and TV stars, singers and artists for four days of screenings, infotainment panels, workshops and staged script readings. Those lucky enough to attend the festival were treated to a live story teller competition hosted by National Radio Personality Michael Baisden, Twinkie Byrd’s Monologue Slam and an intimate conversation with industry executive Devon Franklin. Oh yeah and I’d be remised not to mention the 39 documentary, feature and short films featured. The diverse festival line-up was written and produced by both emerging and established filmmakers and starred some of Black Hollywood’s brightest stars including the very talented Lynn Whitfield, Tichina Arnold, Clifton Powell, Darren Dewitt Henson and last but certainly not least rising star Brely Evans, who gave a stellar performance in Note to Self the Festival’s opening night film.
Festival goers were pleased with the HBFF weekend events as evidenced by their social media postings and Author, National Radio Personality and Philanthropist Michael Baisden shared those exact sentiments in a brief interview after Saturday night’s live stage read. “I had a great time at the Hollywood Black Film Festival. It was great hosting the Storyteller Competition and great seeing all this young talent, all these individual writers, the actors and of course it was great getting the invitation. Its my first one and won’t be last one.”
The weekend culminated with the closing night film 24 Hour Love written by Donald B. Welch and directed by Fred Thomas, Jr and filmmaker presentations with jury awards for the best feature, the best short, the best student film and the best documentary as well as one audience choice award.
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD WINNER
Title: Against the Grain
Written By: Elias Mael
Directed By: Elias Mael
JURY AWARD WINNERS
Title: Dar He: The Lynching of Emmitt Till
Written By: Rob Underhill & Mike Wiley
Directed By: Rob Underhill
Title: White Space
Written By: Maya Washington
Directed By: Maya Washington
Written By: Solomon Onita
Directed By: Solomon Onita
Title: Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution
Written By: Deborah Riley Draper
Directed By: Deborah Riley Draper
1st place – Six Figures written by Regina Junior
The 12th Annual Hollywood Black Film Festival took over the intersection of Hollywood and Highland with the perfect combination of culture and creativity, reminding the mainstream entertainment industry about the power of Black Cinema. The Hollywood Black Film Festival is making noise and the people are listening. If by chance you were hiding under a rock and didn’t get the memo Writer Donald B. Welch has a message for you. “The Hollywood Black Film Festival, I wouldn’t miss it for the world and neither should you!”